Too much transparency. Disruption. Lack of engagement. These are a few of the words executives have tossed around in their discussions about the once-cool open office work environment. But before you jump on the anti-open office bandwagon, learn why these types of workspaces often fail.
With the right strategy for success, companies can reap the positive benefits of an open office environment. From enhanced knowledge sharing between employees to improved productivity and job satisfaction, it all starts with three key components: evidence-based design, technology, and training.
1. Business is about people.
A well-designed workspace begins with evidence-based design. Start by asking one question: what are people doing 70 percent of the day? Through this process of discovery, you can develop an understanding of an organization's business processes and individual and group needs for on-demand activities. Oftentimes, the true increase in productivity happens when people are away from their desks. It's all about tailoring the right configuration that respects employees' activities and needs. Whether it's a focus room, a cognitive strategy room for free thinking, or open areas that tap into migration patterns, well-thought-out designs promote interacting, sharing, on-the-spot training, and connecting.
2. Unite on-demand spaces with technology.
Now it's time to take evidence-based design one step further by integrating technology throughout the entire space. Because evidence-based design enlightens your understanding of the business needs, you can tailor the space to meet those demands. To untether an employee, technology integration should make the tools part of the environment, not an afterthought. Strategic technology integration starts at the planning phase - with an understanding of the type of equipment and software needed and how it becomes an integral and seamless tool. Technology should function like an appliance that a user can walk up to and immediately operate with little training or intervention.
3. Train, train, train!
Just because you build it doesn't mean they will follow. Space doesn't sustain organizational change, but training occupants on how to use the new space and technology can lead to a successful open office environment. Implement a training program that teaches employees about the new workplace protocol, including how to share the entire office and operate the technology. When technology is available, employees can take control of their own productivity. Dynamic organizational processes do not sit still, and a high-performance office should support the increase in movement - with technology.
At the core, workplace design is not about reducing square footage. It's about making it easier for the organization and its people to be more productive. By tailoring on-demand activities, integrating technology throughout the space, and training occupants on new workplace protocols and technologies, an open office can become a strategic tool for business success.