For all the hubbub that has swept the business world in the last decade, what does an open office plan really translate to? Sure, the cubicles are knocked down and there's a little more opportunity for face time, but end of the day it's still the same people under the same roof.

If you want to see an office that's more literally open, you might want to check out a strategy employed by Detroit office design company dPOP, profiled recently by Quartz.

Building Community

dPOP--standing for People, Office, and Places--opens its doors to the public to work in its confines once a month. By giving remote workers, freelancers, or folks who just want some time away from the office, a place they can go with free WiFi and coffee, the company essentially becomes an occasional co-working space.

What's in it for dPOP? Well, it benefits from this in a way that other companies wouldn't, given that it sells office design expertise. In other words, by opening up, dPOP to show off its own office space and say, "Wouldn't it be nice if you could work in something like this?"

But while that sort of marketing benefit might have a more immediate pay-off for dPOP (a business that sells office design lets potential customers see its very own office design), any company could leverage this sort of policy to build a term that is usually applied in a digital context: community.

Building up a vibrant social media rapport with customers is nice, but what better way to build a relationship with customers than to have them right there, in your office? (Hey, it works for Starbucks.)

The Fun Factor

Even beyond the potential for growing interaction with a customer base, there's also something inherently exciting about the idea of an office that's open to the public. That creative buzz that comes from a coffee shop or a co-working space might not be conducive to all work, all the time. But a monthly dose of it in your own walls might help instill some of it in your company. As dPOP CEO Melissa Price tells Quartz, "It brings a great energy to the space. More people, more energy."

One other benefit that comes to mind (though it was not addressed by Quartz) is the potential recruiting advantages that might come part and parcel with bringing people in your doors. Several companies already use hackathons and contests as recruiting arms, so it could stand to reason that you'd meet people who might make a good fit at your company by opening sesame. And you'd probably get to know them as candidates far better by watching them work than you ever could from an interview and a resume.

Whether or not this sort of strategy is viable for your company depends on a few factors--not the least of which would be the relative safety of your office location and the amount of space you have available to let people use. Whether or not it's for you, though, it does add a whole new dimension when we talk about whether or not an office is truly "open."

Published on: Apr 1, 2014