How to Maintain Balance in an Open-Plan Office

Sep. 14, 2019

While some people rave about the benefits of an open-plan office, not everyone is excited about them. If your company uses the open plan model, chances are, some of your employees may struggle to get work done. A Harvard study shows that the open-plan concept could lead to a 70% drop in face-to-face communication and a reduction in productivity output.

As office manager, you can’t wave a magic stick and give everyone the workspace they truly want. What you can do is to ensure that the work environment is suitable enough for everyone to get their work done, comfortably. Here’s how.

Maintain Balance in an Open-Plan Office

Create quiet zones

Employees need spaces where they can think, create, and even relax with no distraction. These places should be different from break rooms where people are encouraged to engage in small talk. Outfit your quiet zones with comfortable furniture and as much privacy as possible.

If there’s no available room to designate, you can still make do with what is possible. Set apart a corner in a workroom and redesign it. Cut it off from the rest of the room with large plants or large bookshelves. Hang up “No Talking/No Noise” signs to remind users of the purpose of that space.

Give employees some control

An open space with shared desks could give the misconception that everyone can be interrupted at any time. But this is not the work culture for everyone. Some people, especially creatives, rely heavily on deep work. This is the ability to work for long, uninterrupted periods with no distractions. Ensure that your employees know that they have some control over their availability.

One method is to provide ‘Busy’ cards for everyone. Similar to the table placeholders used at restaurants. Once an employee puts it up, others know that that person is going into deep work and does not wish to be interrupted.

Encourage people to take their meetings and collaborations away from the shared workspace

One conversation is all it takes to distract everyone sitting at a work desk. To ensure that this doesn’t often happen, encourage people to take their discussions elsewhere. If there’s a need for consultation, they can use a break room or meeting room. You can also put up signs around the workspace to remind people that they should be quiet.

Meeting rooms should be easy to book. Employees should be able to take their meetings privately when needed. An internal booking software, such as Meeting Room 2, is highly recommended. It shows employees the available hours on each office meeting room and can be used to make instant bookings.

Stay open to suggestions

While you try to provide ways to make an open office plan comfortable for everyone, stay tuned to what employees think. Make it clear that the company is open to suggestions about the working situation. These employees know what they enjoy and dislike about their workspaces. They are in the best position to make helpful suggestions for a better workspace. Also, try to consult them and get their opinion before making any significant changes to their work environment.

Interested in the Meeting Room 2 app? Explore its features and functionalities here.