|Are you thinking about adopting an open-concept workspace for your company? Or perhaps you already work in one and are wondering how to overcome some of the challenges associated with it. Open-concept workspaces do have their share of disadvantages but they are here to stay and if done right, can increase collaboration, innovation and team-building.One study that polled corporate employees found that half of them would work an extra hour each day if they had a better workplace. Think of what this could do to productivity! To find out more about the benefits, challenges and tips for working in an open-concept workspace, read on.|
Benefits of an open-space work environment
An open-concept work environment can be beneficial for employers and employees alike.
Workspaces without walls provide your team with instant support and ample opportunity to collaborate, bond and work as a team. Employees are in the know whether they want to be or not just by being present. This can be very valuable— everyone knows what’s going on and everyone is involved in problem solving.
Open workspaces require less physical space than offices or cubicles and it costs less to heat and cool one main work area as opposed to individual offices.
- Break down the hierarchy
The traditional top-down hierarchy is generally masked in an open-concept workspace. Breaking down these proverbial walls gives a sense approachability and encourages open communication.
Challenges and solutions to working in an open workspace
Along with the benefits of working in an open workspace come the challenges. But most can be overcome with some simple modifications.
Noise— namely speech— is the #1 problem associated with working in an open workspace. In fact, a recent survey of 65,000 people worldwide reported that more than half of office workers were dissatisfied with the level of “speech privacy” in their workplace. Playing background noise from a white noise machine or using ear plugs or headphones can help to mask this distraction. You can also do your part by keeping the volume of your voice quiet, eliminating the use of speakerphone and not calling out to others from across the office. Instant messaging is a great, silent way to communicate with co-workers in this type of environment.
- Lack of privacy
To some, the lack of privacy and the prevalence of distraction is a challenge. If endless interruptions are hindering your productivity, sometimes the best thing to do is retreat to a conference room, lobby or even the nearby coffeehouse.
Since workspaces are generally shared in an open work environment, there is little accountability for messes and therefore, open workspaces tend to be messy. Do your part in keeping shared spaces clean by throwing out your trash, pushing in chairs and putting things back where they belong when you are done using them. Cut down on paper piles by utilizing USB flash drives to store info. Give each person a box or tote to store their personal work items in so they are out of sight when not in use. Provide staff with logo-imprinted mugs or tumblers to reduce the clutter of empty cans, bottles and to-go cups.
Open workspaces aren’t for everyone, but they are here to stay. So make the best of them and focus on the benefits while working to overcome the challenges.
FitzGerald, Sumei. “Open Space Office Etiquette.” EHow. Demand Media, 14 May 2010. Web. 17 Oct. 2012.
Gardapee, Pamela. “The Advantages of an Open Plan & an Enclosed Office.” EHow. Demand Media, 12 Oct. 2009. Web. 17 Oct. 2012.
Tierney, John. “From Cubicles, Cry for Quiet Pierces Office Buzz.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 May 2012. Web. 17 Oct. 2012.