Open office plans have become all the rage in recent years — as has arguing about whether or not open office plans benefit or hurt employees. Certainly, designing an office space that works for every personality type and working style is tricky. As such, in order to ensure maximum productivity rates on the job, it’s worth thinking beyond simply “open vs. closed” to a few more nuanced elements of office space design. A few things to consider:
1) How You’re Grouping Employees
One thing that employers often don’t consider in setting up a workspace is just how office workers should be distributed throughout that plan. Too often, people assume that the members of the accounting department should work with other members of the accounting department, and so forth throughout the various silos of an organization. But what if an employee’s placement was instead based on working style. That is, introverts placed with other introverts, and extroverts with extroverts? People who love listening to the radio while working vs. those who like it as quiet as a library? By grouping like minded people together, you will be creating an ideal, customized environment for every member of your workforce.
2) Making Your Space Flexible
That said, an employee’s needs often differ throughout the day as their energy and concentration levels rise and fall. What’s more, many small offices won’t have the space to devote to divide amongst so many different personality types. That’s where flexible workspaces come in. This can come in the form of ergonomic office equipment and furniture that really are flexible. This means furniture that is easy to pull apart and reconfigure on a daily basis, based on the needs of an individual or a team. You might, for example, begin the day with two opposite desks fully blocked off from each other, and then simply push down a divider for more collaborative working in the afternoon. You can also make good use of common rooms, turning them into meeting rooms during certain hours, conference call rooms during others, and quiet work rooms during other hours still.
3) Let Employees Take the Lead
Whether you hand over the reigns to the entire office space or just a few rooms, employees will work far more efficiently when they’re in a space that really feels like them. There are many famous examples of creative workspaces at places like Google and Zappos, including a cafeteria that looks like an Irish pub and a room that is pretty much just a giant trampoline. Whatever route you take, just make sure employees are at the center of the design team.
Designing an office that works for your entire company can seem like an impossible task. However, there are many ways to customize for individual needs. For more on this topic, we highly recommend reading the following article, Ergonomics of Trust: Does Your Space Foster Productivity?
What’s the most creative (or crazy!) office design you’ve ever spotted? Let us know in the comments below.