Open Plan Office?
The idea of refurbishing an office space into a bright, airy, open-plan collaborative space could be an incorrect move, according to research.
What do employees really want?
Mention 'open plan' to an employee, and some may flinch, having had poor experiences. Too loud to concentrate, little privacy, and distracting. Research has shown that an open plan space actually decreases collaboration and peer to peer conversation by 70%, resulting in a far higher volume of employees using instant messaging IM such as Slack, or email conversations, with a 50% increase in usage.
Recent suggestions are that the style was born out of necessity in the 'dotcom boom', where tech companies were growing so rapidly that they required space to fill with bodies and not walls, screens and multiple desks. And since every business wanted to be perceived as successful as the dotcom startups, the open plan style stuck.
Enter the new 'open plan' initiative
Open plan can be collaborative, it can improve face-to-face interaction, it can benefit your company, and bring it up to the standards you require. There is also strong research to support the function of open plan office space.
It depends on the structure of your business, and how you need it to flow for your employees. Every business functions differently, every employee has different requirements, and every employees workday varies.
This reinforces the value of having your office refurbishment/fit-out designed through the 'research-led design' process, to find out exactly how your business flows within the office space over a given period of time, so the space can be created bespoke to you.
Businesses who have conformed to the 'dotcom business approach', full open plan office space, need not panic; Through a well designed refurbishment/ office churn program, your space can be turned from an employee distraction into an employee delight!
Introduce work environments, private spaces and meeting rooms within your office space, environments which suit the needs of the dynamic nature of your employees working day.
Be creative with loose furniture; soft seating, private acoustic enhancing booths, beach huts, stand alone pods and phone boxes, even hammocks create zones and spaces within the open plan space. Different work zones stimulates employees to move around the space, driving interest and motivation. This gives lots of choice for when employees need to escape their regular space to collaborate on a one to one, go solo for a telephone call, or get away from everyone because they feel like it.
Demarcate these work environments with bold colour choices, a change in floor design and furniture, and break up the areas with plenty of green plants. Thank you to Katherine Schwab @FC.
Open Plan is not dead; Far from it, it just has to work for your organisations individual needs, and adopting some new features to push your business toward total employee satisfaction isn't difficult, especially when you can receive great advice from a Trusted Partner for Workplace Change.