When I was at Jimmy Choo, I had a corner office with two assistants sitting out front and felt guarded and disconnected from my team during the day-to-day. I vowed not to replicate the same traditional set up when I launched my namesake brand in 2016. Since then I've established a totally open floor plan which in essence acts as a foundation for our company culture and daily interaction.
The format of having everyone sit together eschews the formality of separate cubicles or cold corner offices reserved just for executives. Instead, an open floor plan where leaders of each department sit amongst their teams fosters conversation allowing questions and ideas to flow between all people at all levels of the company.
Myself, along with our CEO and executive team sit out in the open with the entire company and the practice has proven to be incredibly positive for cultivating connectivity and a dynamic exchange of ideas and information for all of us.
Here are the main ways in which an open floor plan has created a significant culture change within our office:
1. No closed doors means everything is out in the open.
Having no way in which to shut anyone out means all conversations are out in the open. Nothing is masked and the momentum of ideas and exciting projects can permeate through the office. It also builds transparency and trust amongst the team.
2. Fewer emails.
While we of course still very much communicate over email, sitting near one another has eliminated a lot of the back and forth usually common with an email-only conversation thread. Also, we don't face as many bottleneck situations that can arise when people are waiting for approvals, as most of this is done right there in person. Overall, the team is more efficient with the time and productivity.
3. You can mix up the design.
Perhaps the most significant result of having this open floor plan is the increased collaboration amongst teams. Ideas can bounce freely and be considered by people on various teams to hear and offer their opinion. To promote even more collaboration and dynamic creativity, we rotate the seating chart every six months and partner teams together that don't typically work together.
So, design may be situated next to inventory planning or finance next to public relations. The process ensures departments don't get stuck working in silos but rather mix it up, learn from others and get full transparency into what's going on in areas of the company they might not otherwise have insight into.