It seems like for every article out there extolling the virtues of the open office environment, there’s another one cursing their existence. I ran across a Forbes article recently declaring “The Open-Office Concept is Dead.”
The thing I’m struggling with is why can’t organizations have both open office space and private spaces? There are so many times in business where we can’t have our cake and eat it too, but office space doesn’t have to be one of them. That’s why I wanted to share this infographic, courtesy of Quill.com. It talks about the pros and cons to the open office space environment. It’s a reminder of the reasons we need to have a variety of different workspaces to accommodate team collaboration and individual deep thought.
What I was drawn to in the infographic is the bottom section titled “Tips for Successful Open Workspaces.” I thought the suggestions like creating noise level guidelines were spot-on. The one thing I wonder is where do employees learn about these guidelines?
Organizations with open office environments might want to consider developing their own set of rules. The rules can be reviewed during orientation. You could make some funky posters to hang around the office. If employees wear badges, the rules could be on the blank side of the badge. The point is…don’t assume that the rules are common sense and everyone knows them.
I can see the advantages and disadvantages to the open office environment. One of the pluses I’ve seen is that companies are actually making an investment in the look and feel of the workspace. So, after spending some resources to upgrade the office, I don’t know how willing they will be to start over. But with a few respectful guidelines in place, maybe employees can find balance in their work environment.2