Open Office Layout: How to Do It Right?

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

The days when employees used to sit in their own cubicles cut off from the rest of the world are long behind us. The modern workplace is now focused on a more functional and stimulating design that can boost the employees’ performance and inspire cooperation among teams. Thus, a great number of employers and designers have turned to the open office layout as a perfect solution for the modern office. Of course, there have been some reservations and scepticism regarding this layout, but with the right approach, you can reap all the benefits that it brings.

Why the open office layout?
Before tackling specific design considerations of the open layout, you should take some time to learn why it’s the right choice for your company. The open floor plan  erases boundaries between employees, encouraging them to communicate and work together. It creates an open, unified space where teamwork and communication take priority, and the employees enjoy a unique sense of unity. Ongoing communication, open atmosphere and increased satisfaction are all important factors that affect the employees’ job performance and motivation.

There’s also a practical side to the open layout. It’s actually more cost-effective since it’s easier to maintain a stable temperature, reducing the heating and electricity bills. You can also save on the office equipment because the employees can share it.

Promote place identity
Many have argued that the open office layout actually has negative effects on the employees’ performance. However, it has been shown that the problem actually lies beyond physical boundaries. Namely, employees need to feel comfortable in their work environment and develop a sense of belonging. This is actually known as the place identity, and it’s one of the crucial factors that you need to consider when switching to the open layout. It’s essential that you take some time before even implementing it to discuss it with your employees and explain how it would enhance collaboration, flexibility and creativity. This will make them feel more enthusiastic about the change, embrace it and develop a personal connection to their new space.

Erase the physical barriers
The first step in designing the open office layout is bringing down the physical barriers. This can be as easy as removing lightweight cubicle dividers or as difficult as tearing down the walls and columns. Thus, it’s essential that you consult with  experienced architects when it comes to structural work in your office. They can provide you with practical solutions and help you make the most of your office space. Since they specialise in industrial buildings, office constructions and other renovation areas, they will make sure that everything is done efficiently and properly.

Create boundaries with office zones
Noise and distractions can be a major hindrance to your employees’ productivity, so it’s important that you find a way to provide your employees with peace and quiet while keeping the open layout. Dividing your open office into different zones can be a functional solution. You can provide your employees with communal areas, different team zones and workstations.

Although you still want to maintain the open layout, you can introduce stylish dividers that can provide your employees with privacy. For instance, moveable green walls can be a stylish solution that will enable your workers to focus on their tasks at hand while still being connected to their colleagues.

Design dedicated quiet spaces
Although the open layout encourages communication and collaboration among the employees, some individuals simply prefer working on their own. Even if they generally enjoy working with others, they may need some alone time when they feel a bit off. Therefore, you can design several areas with soundproof insulation where your employees can work without any distractions. This way, you’ll design a flexible space that can meet the needs of your employees at any given moment.

Focus on flexibility and your employees’ needs
When designing the open office layout, you need to create a functional and flexible space that will cater to your employees’ needs. When equipping your office with items that everyone uses, you should make sure that they’re easily accessible to everyone. However, you also need to make sure that every employee has what they need within reach to prevent your office space from getting crowded.

Maintain a cohesive design
Opting for a unified, cohesive design will help you create a balanced atmosphere in your office where your employees feel connected to each other. If you decorate each zone differently, you can create a chaotic effect that will distract your employees. Thus, you should go with the same colour scheme in your office, focusing on colours that promote creativity, focus and productivity. You should also go with the same design style when it comes to office furniture and other details. Decorating your office space with motivational quotes, inspiring paintings and creative wall art can boost your workers’ motivation. Nonetheless, you should allow them to personalise their own desks so that they can feel completely comfortable.

The open office design can enhance your employees’ satisfaction and well-being. However, it’s essential that you find the right approach that will enable you to reap the benefits that it brings.

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