The days of Office Space, a movie depicting a bleak world of cubicles strewn across an office floor, are becoming increasingly numbered. Today, it seems that traditional office layouts are being replaced by a growing suite of collaborative, open workspaces. Employees are sitting at long tables, office walls are being converted into dry erase boards, and nitro brew and kombucha are readily available on tap. Privacy is giving way to open communication and collaboration as companies seek to drive teamwork and productivity to new heights.
In the blink of an eye, the typical business setting has gone from faxes, pagers and letters, to e-mails, paperless policies and the cloud. Workspaces have followed suit, and a more collaborative and open office culture has become much more common. But with all this change, can employees still maintain high productivity and increased output? Here are some benefits to consider:
Now, the skepticism of an open floor plan is understandable. How can my company's productivity increase if my employees are all sitting together with no privacy? How can anyone focus? The real question, however, is how can anyone be productive when isolated and working in their own silos?
The problem with more traditional office settings is that they often hinder collaboration and the flow of information between team members. We all have moments where we need to isolate ourselves from distractions – that’s why breakout rooms are an important complement to open floor plans. For the status quo, however, an open office layout encourages your employees to join forces and accomplish tasks as a team. This intermingling creates a sense of unity among each employee and facilitates the transfer of ideas between them. Although you may be working on different tasks than your peers, you’re all working to further the company’s mission.
If you can build a culture that places an emphasis on teamwork, flexibility and cooperation, you can expect your productivity to shoot through the roof with an open workspace.
For years, companies have been spending millions to try and boost morale and create a team atmosphere in their office. You’ve most likely participated in a ‘team building exercise’ or ‘company retreat’. These events have varied outcomes, but are all limited by the fact that they represent a one-off event. The best way to consistently boost morale within your company is to bring everyone together by breaking down the barriers separating them.
According to Office Vibe, 70% of employees would like to spend more time with their managers. In a traditional workspace, the employee-manager interaction can be limited due to the physical barrier separating them. By breaking down these walls, you are removing the hierarchy between employees and placing everyone on level footing. This should help create a more cohesive culture where employees can view each other as equals. Morale and corporate culture are linked to the blend of people that make up the company; providing an environment for increased interactions between employees should help boost both.
A key benefit associated with open workspaces is the flexibility that they provide companies.
Open floor plans are more affordable than traditional offices, which often allows companies to devote additional resources to the employee experience. From standing desks, to fully-stocked kitchens, to pool tables, the savings associated with an open floor plan allow for a greatly improved office environment. These "offices" provide the perks of a major corporate campus for a fraction of the operational cost.
In addition, open floor plans provide companies with the flexibility needed to adjust on the fly. If teams are changing or you want to move people around, you will have the flexibility needed for whatever comes next. It’s a lot easier (and far more economical) to adjust when you don’t need to include contractors and sledgehammers.
Overall, open work spaces are more than just a fad. Companies are realizing that by simply removing the physical barrier that keep employees apart they can generate measurable increases in productivity and employee morale. As your business continues to grow and develop, recognizing that the benefits of bringing your employees together completely dwarfs the cost of keeping them apart.