With entrepreneurship on the rise and everyone looking for an idea that will make them the next Jeff Bezos, traditional corporations must find ways to attract and retain talent. The promise of a salary with a 401k match no longer does the trick, as employees look for more from their employers. One successful way to easily increase employee satisfaction, without spending money on ping pong tables, is by removing drab cubicles, tan walls, and closed doors and allowing for the creation of an open office environment.
While this technique is becoming a norm, more “seasoned” office personnel often will not leave their doors without a fight. So, before a company starts to get their HGTV on, it is highly important that they both understand and communicate the benefits of an open work concept for everyone.
Why do it?...I’m glad you asked!
Let’s face it… tearing down walls tears down walls. When there are no barriers, team members will increase the amount of conversation they have around problems they are looking to solve. This may seem like an annoyance, but it actually creates a domino effect. Picture a wedding reception where no one is having fun, but then one person begins to dance. Soon after, someone else joins, and the next thing you know the dance floor is full! Now come back to the office where a team member is trying to problem solve with another. That person may not have the answer, but someone within earshot hears a buzz word and joins that conversation, sharing their experience. The problem can quickly and easily be solved, without requiring a formal meeting or a long email thread.
Work relationships form organically, but there are some people that keep their head down until it’s time to leave and barely say goodbye… yikes! Open work environments create a sense of community, which is what people want to feel, in a place where they spend upwards of 50% of their waking time. Even the shyest team member will chuckle at a joke that is overheard or engage in a little sports banter after the NBA Finals. With an open office environment, team members begin to understand one another differently, increasing trust levels that ultimately lead to more productivity.
- Flow of Learning
Managers and senior team members know everything, right? Probably not. Opening up the walls allows the finance person to talk to the sales representative, the marketing manager to talk to the engineer, and more. All of these various functions have a common goal and can learn how each of their individual parts work together to create a cohesive whole. It breaks down tunnel vision and gives team members a different perspective, allowing them to understand different aspects of the business.
Once you’ve decided that an open office environment is the way to go, there comes another problem: what do you do with all those corner offices? The fact of the matter is that there still needs to be some place where colleagues can meet to talk privately, and offices make the perfect huddle spaces. And with technology like BlueJeans Rooms, these individual offices can be repurposed into rooms where people can meet to work collaboratively with others in the office, and using the video technology, others around the world.
Moving from an environment where everyone has their own cubicle or office to one where everyone is in the open can be intimidating. However, when done correctly, open office environments surrounded by small spaces for private meetings can turn even the shyest employee into one who is excited to come to work and chat with his colleagues. What's stopping you from making the change?