Although the idea of an open office environment is not new, some companies that held off on renovating, or changing their floorplan are suddenly realizing that to compete for younger employees their office environment must change. Enter the open office environment. Older employees cringe, picturing rows of tables with computers, no personal space, and noise. Lots of noise. It doesn’t have to be this way! There are a number of ways to open your office without making everyone in the office mad.
- Keep Offices, but Open Them Up to the Light – As soon as people hear “open office” they start screaming about their offices. For those who work in an environment with a hierarchy and status associated with corner offices, this idea might be difficult but allowing people to keep their offices while taking down all the drywall and replacing with glass will immediately do wonders to those who work in an interior cubicle all day. Instead of screaming “Let them have cake”, the next generation will be screaming “Let there be light!”
- Create Different Forms of Break-Out Spaces – Not everyone wants to be interrupted all day with office gossip, people stopping by offices or deals that are being closed. To help with this, create phone booth type areas, or small breakout rooms. On the flip side, creating open spaces for people to bump into each other, allowing people to work in the kitchen/break area, or at a comfy couch instead of being confined to a cubicle or office all day long allows for new ideas to happen, along with collaboration.
- Invest in Headphones. Noise-cancelling Ones – If your office is entirely open and you have trouble concentrating on your work with people talking and collaborating all day, look into a few different noise-cancelling headphones. Bose, Shure and Samsung all make great ones; some under $100.
- Understand that Change is Inevitable – Know and understand that the way you have done business for 30 years will surely change and become different over the years. The idea is no different for office space. We don’t need as much space for computers, fax machines, personal printers, papers, filing cabinets, etc. as we did 15 or 20 years ago. Because of that, much of our floorplan needs to be revised and changed. Instead of an entire area devoted to filing storage, that could be a breakout space with comfy couches, or hightop tables with a TV for teleconference meetings.
I will leave you with this one thought: “Life is change. If you aren’t growing and evolving, you’re standing still, and the rest of the world is surging ahead.”