First a Starbucks on every corner… now open offices seem to be popping up everywhere! Are they just the latest trend or are they here to stay? No one really knows, but I can guarantee that if your company is thinking about making the move to an open office, you’ve come to the right place.
How do you keep your employees happy? How do you make sure your staff members continue to produce quality work? How does your company thrive in an open office? These are all important questions when considering a space transition project or when you find yourself smack dab in the middle of one.
Let’s discuss the 3 keys to helping you make it through unscathed.
The More Data the Better
Typically, any project goes more smoothly when you have a plan. That is exactly what gathering data does for an open office space transition project. Not only do you want to gather data before the project even begins, but you’ll want to gather data during the transition and after everyone is settled into the new space, as well.
Before the project gets off the ground, it would be a good idea to answer the following questions:
- How many employees are there currently?
- How much personnel growth is projected for the future?
- What is the current telework policy and how might it change after moving to an open office environment?
This information, in addition to data regarding space utilization rates, technology requirements, and various space standards, will help you calculate your space needs so you don’t run out of space the first day in your new open office.
While the project is underway, you might want to consider getting a better understanding of your employees and how they work. Focus groups and surveys can help collect the following information:
- To what degree are your employees happy with their work/life balance?
- Would your employees prefer to telework more frequently, and if so, how often?
- What are some concerns your employees have regarding the transition to an open office?
Finally, once everyone is unpacked and diligently working, consider sending out a post-occupancy survey. This will not only allow the employees to express any concerns regarding the new office design, but it will allow management to see what they did well during the project and what they could improve upon to increase employee satisfaction with the new work environment.
The more data you collect, the better the space can be designed, which will result in happier employees and a more successful project overall. Which leads me to my next key to success… not everyone works the same way, so the design of the open office is crucial.
One Layout Doesn't Fit All
A big reason for collecting the data described above is to help plan and design an office that works for your company. Every company requires their own unique space layout in order to create the most efficient and pleasant environment for employees. How many open work stations are needed? How much private space is ideal? How much collaborative space is the right amount? And it’s possible that even more important than the “how” is the “why.” Why should your company, or why is your company, transitioning to an open office?
Thinking that every open office can be designed the same is the equivalent of thinking every house fits every family… it’s a big mistake and could lead to some very unhappy people!
Leadership… Leadership… Leadership
All the planning in the world won’t help you successfully transition to an open office if you lack the leadership to see you through the transition and to deal with the aftermath of the project. No matter how well designed the space or seemingly smooth the transition, there will always be resistance to change when it comes to big projects in the business world. There is no way to avoid it entirely, but there are ways to handle resistance.
Employee buy-in is often a direct reflection of management, which means the management team in any open office space transition project needs to be well-prepared and well-educated on resistance to change and change management. More than anything, managers should lead by example and embrace the new open office concept wholeheartedly.
Data, Design, and Leadership
With the right data, design, and leadership, your open office space transition project could result in a company with a better work/life balance, happier and more motivated employees, and a stunning architectural space. No big project will ever be without its own bumps along the way, but you might as well do everything you can to keep those bumps from turning into giant potholes.