Biz 417: Do open offices lead to more collaboration?
Mykayla Thompson: When talking about an open office plan, collaboration is a frequently used word. The idea is that if you have fewer barriers and a better line of sight to your co-workers you will communicate and work together more often. But this only works when the open office design is done right. When an open office is not designed functionally for the client, it can be more distracting. We’ve seen that employees who are worried about distractions sometimes end up working from home or secluding themselves from others, which can lead to less collaboration. That’s not the only concern. If a coworker is worried about distracting others in the office, their answers might be shorter than usual, or they might feel like they can’t speak freely. An open office can certainly lead to collaboration when designed thoughtfully, but it can also cause teams to be less productive when it’s not.
Biz 417: Does having an open office plan mean I am going to be sitting right next to my coworker and staring at them all day?
M.T.: This is a common concern we hear when talking with a client about designing an open office. We’ve heard this worry so much that I have stopped using the phrase “open office” as often. When I do use that term, clients tend to think I am going to take down every wall, put everyone at a 24-x-60-inch rectangle desk, and everyone will be staring at one another. This could not be further from the truth. What’s true is that over the past 20 years, the office environment has slowly been moving away from the traditional rows of offices and tall cubicle panels. It’s our job to take the client on a journey to find out what their next office landscape is going to look like. We believe that an open office is really a living office, with varying dimensions that meet the needs of everyone. The most important factor to an open office is that it’s unique to each client.