The headline was certainly enticing:
Google got it wrong!
shouted the article in the Washington post, just at the end of last year. The author, a senior advertising professional from Brooklyn, writes a scathing attack on the new office she is forced to use for work: an open plan office.
Reading her story, I could not help but agree that her place sounds a pretty horrible: no privacy, management that doesn’t trust their employees, a business with no regard for its employees well-fare: yikes, who would want to work there?
But, let’s be honest here – blaming all of this on the layout of an office is a bit much. Rather, many of the issues she describes seem to point to a lack of employee engagement, poor management practices and, yes, some poor design decisions.
So how do you avoid creating such a mess? Or improve your existing set-up?
First, look at your management attitude and style. Do you trust your employees? Do you focus on outcomes vs hours-sat-at-desk? Do you believe your employees are responsible adults?* If so, treat them like such – you don’t need to supervise their every keystroke. Give them the flexibility to work in ways that are best for them: from desks, standing up, sitting on a sofa, in the local coffee shop, coworking space or their home. You might need to help the team to develop the skills to coordinate workload under a flexible regime – but the increase in productivity will be worth it.
Secondly, looking at design starts by looking at your corporate culture, the work styles and demographics in your organisation, its structure, regional influences, etc to figure out the type of workplace best fits your business’ needs.
Listen. Think. Look behind the myth.
Don’t jump the bandwagon pulled by a famous organisation. Listen. Think. Look behind the myth. Currently, collaboration is all the rage – but research has shown that most workers actually spend more time on individual focus work than collaborating. A flexible design based on choice can easily accommodate adequate private areas for focused work, collaboration spaces and other needs – managed by etiquette rules (with relevant enforcement should they be broken). Such design creates different spaces for different activities – no different to the various rooms in your house, really!
Good news is, such design does not necessarily mean spending mega bucks. In fact, simply re-arranging, a trip to the local Ikea and some colourful accessories plus a pot plant or two can work wonders. Don’t believe me? Contact me here to challenge us for a free assessment to create improve your workspace.
*if you just know your staff will slack off the minute you turn your back, you have an entirely different problem of employee engagement. One that can and likely will seriously undermine your business. If you want to know more about the importance of employee engagement, click here or schedule a quick chat with us here.