Turning Away From Open Office Plans

A group of young professionals collaborate in an work space furnished with large table desks, white brick and wood tiles.

The right office space and layout for your business are key to maximizing productivity and minimizing employee turnover and stress. But what type of office plan is best?

When Google converted their headquarters to an open office plan in 2005, they started a trend that’s still alive and growing today. If Google has an open office plan, then clearly, it’s a successful strategy, right? Not to mention, open office plans can save businesses a lot of money by reducing square footage needs.

However, the research has taken a stand, and the open office plans that have taken hold in the business world appear to be detrimental to employee productivity, morale, and collaboration—the opposite of what was intended. Here are some of the myths about open offices with alternative solutions to achieve the intended goals:

Encourage Collaboration & Communication

The primary goal of an open office plan was to encourage collaboration and communication between employees. The thought was that with no separated offices or cubicles there will be no physical distance or pesky doors to get in the way of communication. As it turns out, open office plans actually decrease in-person communication and collaboration. With no privacy, employees might feel disruptive talking to one another or be more hesitant to share ideas if it means they have to do it in front of the whole office.

Your team is full of diverse people—some who work well with ambient noise, and some who need complete silence to prosper. Some people prefer to share their ideas in a more private space and you don’t want to lose out on those opportunities for collaboration. An ideal way to ensure your employees can collaborate while still having the space to focus and share ideas in smaller groups is to provide different types of spaces. For example, you might provide a “quiet” area and a “collaborative” area, giving employees laptops and allowing them to roam between them depending on their mood, task, or needs. This wouldn’t necessary eliminate the cost savings of eliminating private offices, but it still gives your employees the choice to work in the environment that works best for them.

Eliminate Hierarchy & Division Between Teams

While open office plans do encourage collaboration between different departments and teams, they can actually emphasize a corporate hierarchy more than a closed plan. For example, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a plain white desk in the open office plan just like all of his other employees—but he also has a private conference room where it’s rumored he usually works.

An alternative is to offer each employee their own office or desk in addition to providing shared spaces, that way everyone has the benefits of privacy.

Ultimately, open office plans aren’t worth the cost savings. In exchange, you may be sacrificing productivity, morale, and collaboration among your employees. Consider investing in an office space that can accommodate different needs for privacy, noise levels, and collaboration. We can help you find an office space that provides enough space for your employees and works within your financials.

Every day of the year, Mazirow Commercial negotiates leases to protect and save tenants rent dollars on many lease terms. The landlord is fully informed about the terms of the market place, are you? Don’t go to the table alone, contact us today. We are the tenant advocate for the Greater Los Angeles and West Los Angeles Area, San Fernando Valley, Conejo Valley, Ventura County, Santa Monica, Glendale, and more

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