Open Plan Office Anyone?

Moving from a traditional office space to an open office can be a difficult change for all members of a team.

Three Benefits

Moving to an open-plan office is usually done for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To save money. An open plan office gives your more space to fit in more people.
  • To have more flexibility of current space
  • To encourage team collaboration
  • To reduce hierarchy.

Shifting to open office spaces does help an organization meet these goals, but this transition can also require some additional tactics to circumvent any problems that may arise after the open office is established.

Well defined expectations are a strategic part of the shift to an open office.

Involve the Team

The best way to create these guidelines is with input from employees. A small team of employees from various departments along with a member of Human Resources is a good place to start. When employees feel ownership over policies, adherence rates will be higher.

Present the new policies along with other information about the move.

Posting policies on the corporate intranet may also prove useful. Be clear about what necessitates the move.

Using the simplest versions of the guidelines will ensure maximum understanding.

Top Issues in an Open Office

Keep it Down, Take it to the Conference Room.

Noise is a common complaint in an open office plan. Some employees find it difficult to work with usual office noise. Music (if allowed) should be played only on headphones and then only so the intended listener can hear it.

The very definition of an open plan office means everyone can be heard by everyone. Be sure to provide a solution for employees who need to have a confidential business conversation. Small conference rooms or otherwise unused offices can be set aside for this purpose.

The Big Taboo

It might be hard to talk about once it’s an issue and as such strong odors can lend cause havoc in an office. Heavily applied cologne, aftershave or perfume should be discouraged. Foods that smell extremely strong should be confined to the lunch area. It goes without saying that personal hygiene should be a part of professionalism, but it is essential in an open office plan. Clear policies are crucial to deal with the issue of smell.

Sensory Overload

For some employees, visual distraction can be just as bad as auditory distractions. Encourage employees to keep their space neat and clean. This also keeps your office looking professional.

Open office plans can require some time for adjustment, but if you plan your guidelines, accordingly, you’ll help your team transition as quickly as possible.

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