If you’ve been toying with the idea of throwing out your cube farm in favor of an open concept workspace, you’re not alone. About 70 percent of U.S. offices now have an open floor plan thanks to inspiration from Google and Facebook. Open floor plans can create collaborative energy amongst your employees and improve productivity. Still unsure if you should make the switch? Here’s a few things to consider:
Instead of hunting down a coworker or having a conversation in a tiny cubicle, open concept workspaces foster collaboration. Employees have more freedom to interact with each other and work together to bounce around ideas. It’s hard to have a teamwork mentality when everyone is cooped up for eight hours a day, begging for human interaction.
No cubicles means no privacy, and that can wear on your employees. Phone calls and quirky eating habits now become everyone’s business. It’s human nature to need some private time—without it, your employees may feel anxious and stressed.
Consider designating “quiet spaces” for when your employees need some silence, but balance out the quiet with an area for your employees to collaborate. Without cubicles taking up so much of the office, there’s room for other fun activities and innovative spaces.
Never commit to a single layout again. With minimal furniture and walls, you can rearrange the office whenever creativity strikes. While employees will still have a desk, having open space allows them to get up and move when they need to get some creative juices flowing. Desks can be grouped by team or position to foster collaboration, and easily moved around when those teams change or expand.
Surveys show that 54 percent of high performance employees find their work environment to be too distracting. Seeing what everyone else is doing and hearing what they’re talking about makes it hard to focus on your own task.
Make sure employees have a “home base” where they feel both comfortable and productive, whether it be a locker, special chair, or labeled spot in the fridge. Give employees something they have some control over when they’re feeling disorderly.
Let’s face it, open concept workspaces are trendy. With plenty of light and room to breathe, the natural flow of open floor plans allows for more individuality and creativity—and they’re more photogenic. Your employees will take pride in working at the hippest office in town.
While bean bags certainly look cool, sitting on one for eight hours is bad for the back and the brain. You don’t want your employees to be so comfortable that they forget they’re still at work.
Make sure form follows function when selecting a layout and furniture. While bean bag chairs and balance balls seem fun and innovative, practicality goes a lot farther when ensuring work gets done. A mixture of traditional desks and comfy chairs creates an environment for every type of worker.
Without walls, there are fewer barriers to communication—even management is more approachable. It’s easier to ask for help, brainstorm ideas, or get feedback from a coworker when you don’t have to leave your cubicle to do so. This allows creative juices to flow throughout the office and improves employee comradery.
CON: Noise pollution.
Individual tasks seem impossible when everyone in the office is talking at the same time. Too much noise can cause employees to stress out and become overwhelmed, which can lead to lower productivity. In fact, 25-30 percent of employees in open floor plan offices are dissatisfied by the amount of noise in their workspace.
Quiet hours, noise-canceling headphones, or desk partitions that can be put up when needed and retracted when not in use are great solutions for temporarily turning open spaces into individual ones.
Without walls, management isn’t separated from employees. There are no hierarchies based on office size or location, so everyone feels more equal.
CON: Germs spread.
When there are no walls, there’s nothing to contain the germs. Studies show that employees in open concept workspaces take significantly more sick days than those working in cellular offices.
While there’s not much you can do about the germs, you can stress the importance of personal health to everyone in the office. Encourage employees to wash their hands often, keep sanitizer throughout the office, and let employees work from home or have the day off if they’re contagious.
We laid out all of the pros and cons of an open concept workspace for you, so now all you have to do is decide if the switch is right for your office and employees. It might seem like a big leap, but know that the experts are at the tips of your fingers throughout the whole process.