Life is not a solo act. It’s a huge collaboration, and we all need to assemble around us the people who care about us and support us in times of strife.
~ Tim Gunn
- Are you losing workspace privacy at work?
- Does your workplace suddenly seem noisy?
- Have you brought your headphones to work to provide some measure of quiet or “white noise” while you work?
The popularity of an open floorplan in a workplace seems to be increasing within recent years. In today’s organizations, gone are the days when employees, except executive leadership, are enclosed within the four corners of their own private office or a cubicle. In numerous cases, the offices are giving way to cubicles. For those who previously had 6-foot cubicle walls, seemingly with a measure of privacy, those walls have shorted to 4 feet. More recently, the cubicle walls are being eliminated.
Historically, organizations have recognized the value of teamwork and easy interaction between colleagues can actually be a great contributing factor to a company’s success.
Open Floorplan: Saving Space or Improving Teamwork?
Contrary to popular belief that open-concept floorplans are used by companies to simply reduce real estate expenses, it appears that one benefit is increased team collaboration. Reviewing ideas with each other with face-to-face interaction is an alternative to walking to a colleague’s cubicle or search the hallways to hold a discussion or playing telephone roulette. This concept might just be the saving grace your company needs to promote improved teamwork and camaraderie between team members.
Stuck in a Cubicle No More
Though workplace privacy may be important to the staff, it is equally important to know that the flexibility an open concept floorplan offers is an improvement to the isolation of the cubicle environment. Now that your desk is within eyeshot or even earshot from another team or department’s area, a lively exchange of opinions, plans and ideas should increase.
“If you don’t have trust inside your company, then you can’t transfer it to your customers.”
Teamwork Tips within an Open Workspace
Here are 11 keys to successful working environments with an open floorplan:
- Personal Space: Respect assigned “personal space”. Yes – it will be limited, and everyone will need to respect the sandbox boundary lines. An open workspace is not an open invitation to raid your co-worker’s supply drawer or pick up the personal photos.
- Teamwork: Encourage each team member’s involvement, after they can see and hear anyway. Take advantage of the close proximity.
- Teamwork: Collaboration on ideas can occur much quicker. No longer will you need to set up an Outlook Meeting Invitation to schedule a formal meeting, if everyone is within eye distance of each other. Ideally, this will result in quicker discussion and reduced formalized meetings.
- Communication: Team members and immediate managers can now practice flexibility in communication styles when sharing ideas and new concepts.
- Workplace privacy: Individual workspace is important, but it is equally important to remember that privacy was not a part of the job description.
- Leadership Recognition: Working solo alone in a private office or being “hidden” in your cubicle is not a form of “open-door policy”. Embrace the idea that your manager’s manager may be visible in your new open work area. You will be able to match a face with a name on the organization chart – as will leadership. Be prepared.
- Unexpected Benefits: An open floorplan can also be a space-saving feature for your company. Could this translate to other benefits for your organization, such as onsite health club or daycare?
- Productivity: your manager is watching. There are pros and cons to your manager being readily available. Impressing your manager is easier when they can directly observe you leading the team huddle to resolve a customer’s problem.
- Work Habits: Improve your timeliness. Managers can easily observe individual arrival and departure schedules.
- Collaboration: Take advantage of the open concept throughout the organization. Expand your reach whenever working with other project teams within your organization. This new work environment will allow everyone to meet “at a glance”. No longer will you need to wait until the monthly birthday celebrations or the annual holiday celebration to connect with colleagues on other teams.
- Organization: Maybe now is the time to downsize your collection of conference freebies displayed within your cubicle. Embrace the idea that downsizing your work collection is a reality. You have a backup plan … you can display your collection in your home office.
“When people honor each other, there is a trust established that leads to synergy, interdependence, and deep respect. Both parties make decisions and choices based on what is right, what is best, what is valued most highly.”
Michel Hobson is one of the most sought-after workplace training leaders in the region. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans multiple countries and hundreds of companies.