Can you become successful while working in an open office floor plan? Many workplaces in the world are adopting this kind of layout. It is not only contributed by the rising real estate costs but also the prevailing goal of most companies to promote a collaborative atmosphere and team-based culture among employees from all ranks. Although it sounds like a good deal, not all employees can get things done in this type of working environment. An open office lacks personal space and there are many disruptions. For many, it is hard to manage the working process and time in such conditions. If you are stuck working in an open office and are wondering how to succeed, this article is for you.
Tips to make it work:
A. For Teams and Individuals
1. Be respectful
If you are a team player and you want to get on well with your colleagues in the open space office plan, you ought to refrain from activities that you wouldn’t want to be done to you. According to Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, you should give your coworkers the same courtesy you expect from them. If you find it distracting when your coworkers talk loudly or eat strong-smelling foods, lead by example and avoid engaging in such activities.
Respect your neighbors’ personal space especially when they have stated explicitly that they don’t want to be interrupted or have put up a “do not disturb” sign. If you have to take a phone call, move to a secluded place to avoid interrupting the quiet in the open room.
2. Think before you speak
Psychologist and health care specialist Sonia Bell claims that before engaging in that impromptu chat with your neighbor, take time to think before you speak. It is normal to feel the need to air any question or thoughts that close your mind. For example, you might feel the need to tell your coworkers that you feel hungry or want to share something you just viewed in your Facebook profile. Even when asking that work-related question, think first. These actions break the productive silence of your coworkers which, according to studies, it takes approximately 23 minutes to regain. It is, therefore, recommended that you think about the importance of the question first before speaking.
3. Send an email
Know your coworkers working styles and they will appreciate you. Make an assessment of whether your neighbor is available for a chat before disrupting them wanting to talk. If the matter you want to discuss is urgent, consider sending them an email if they seem emersed in thoughts or catch-up with them in the hallway.
4. Use noise canceling headphones
If you don’t like noise while working, invest in some noise-canceling headphones to help you retain focus even in a noisy open office environment. You can also use the usual smartphone earphones or headphones to play music in the background. If you can’t work while listening to music, you can have rainfall, ocean, or white noise sounds playing in the background.
5. Embrace Library rules
A lot of activities occur in a library. People thinking, reading, and figuring things out. If your open-plan office doesn’t have partitions on the desks, you can still succeed. According to Fast Company, the lack of partitioning encourages the ‘library effect’ which makes the open plan office quieter. You can clearly see the other person doing their job, which means that you work as if you were in a library. You talk in a quiet voice if you need to converse with someone. You walk out if you need to hold a discussion on something. You do not distract each other and are considerate of other people’s activities.
B. For Leaders
The employer owes it to his employees to ensure the open office floor plan works for each individual’s privacy needs. You can organize the work process in a manner that promotes employees productivity by customizing the environment to make it more functional. For instance;
1. Establishing ground rules
Hold a meeting with your employees and create ground rules that ensure everyone is mindful of their behavior. Talk to employees who don’t respect the personal space of other employees in the office.
2. Minding employees’ sitting position
Consider adopting a mechanism that takes into consideration the effect of placing one team member next to the other. For example, avoid placing a customer service support person who is always on phone calls next to the introvert writer. You can also design a noisy area where your salespersons or customer service providers can carry on their roles without interrupting other employees. Designate another quieter space for employees who engage in deep thinking such as finance managers, or content developers.
3. Designating meeting rooms
Provide a general private conference room employee can discuss confidential matters without disrupting others or receive impromptu calls. It can also be used as a refuge for those who need some alone time to think.
4. Promoting collaboration
Being successful in an open office floor plan shouldn’t be solely focused on reducing the impact of the shortcomings, but should also be about taking advantage of this environment to thrive. The open office plan gives your employees the opportunity to stimulate their creativity, connectivity, and team player skills as they run into random collisions with employees from different ranks.
As an employer, you can promote this connectivity by;
- Placing the coffee machine at a strategic space,
- Creating video conferencing opportunities to help your remote workers update or get updated on what’s happening on site.
5. Organize regular cross-team activities and activities
Everyone is working towards one common goal. Provide large tables in your meeting places instead of desks that accommodate only one person encouraging face to face interaction. You can also change up the sitting position of your employees every few months to help employees get to know each other better.