Is the Open Office Shine Wearing Off?
Articles began appearing around 2012 touting the drawbacks of the open office. If you’re not sure what an open office is, basically, you remove the high-walled panels of a cubicle system and have an open office. With the removal of those walls comes the openness and collaboration that everyone went crazy for over the past decade. According to a Washington Post Article, around 70% of companies have open offices, and the results are showing less than stellar performance reviews. Employees are finding many things to hate about the open office. Maybe with even more passion than the loathing of the high-paneled cubicles. Having worked in both the open office and high-walled cubicles, Let me share some observations with those that are struggling with the decision to open up their office space.
1. Balance is the key
Whether you keep your cubicles or open up the work areas so everyone has a birds-eye view of their co-workers, it’s important to provide balance. When I worked in an open office, the employer made sure there were places to go if you needed quiet concentration or to get away from your co-workers’ prying eyes and ears. My high-paneled cubicle days also successfully struck a balance. I was able to quickly meet with my co-workers in several intimate areas provided by the company. This allowed us to get together impromptu and discuss ideas on the fly.
2. Don’t buy into the hype
We are all being influenced by design trends and this can lead to making expensive and impulsive decisions. I mean how many times has blue jean fashion changed? Since Levi Strauss came on the scene with his work jeans in the 1860’s, blue jean styles change like the wind. One minute the bell bottom is hot and the next it’s all skinny jeans. Similarly, like the fashion industry, the furniture makers want to provide the next new must-have office furniture and office system. So, before you blow your entire budget on the open office, contact a professional and see what can be done to tweak your existing office system.
There are several options if you want to create more balance, including:
- If you have existing cubicles, glass panels or lower panels can be added to your existing cubicles that will allow in natural light and open up the cubicle workspace.
- If you need more collaborative meeting spaces, a few well-placed furniture pieces can create the perfect spaces for impromptu meetings.
- If you have an open office and need more private spaces, paneled work pods can be added in to offer up peace and quiet.
I don’t mean to harangue the open office. It has done so much to demonstrate that there is a definite need for balance within the office. The open office has also made people realize that the grass is definitely not much greener than on the cubicle side of the fence. In the grand scheme of things consider a balanced work space for all types and your employees will be happy and productive.