The open plan office (OPO) has become a new normal especially in tech and creative industries. Whether you’re a fresh graduate starting out your first job or a seasoned executive, open offices can be intimidating and humbling. No matter your position in the company, you could find yourself working right next to your juniors.
Do you feel comfortable working in an open plan office where everyone can see your computer screens? People who have never worked in an OPO surely have to make some adjustments to feel comfortable and focused.
We’ve seen how the press has presented OPO as a productivity killer. However, an OPO, when implemented the right way, can dramatically boost employees’ productivity. Imagine when everyone in your company, from interns to managers, enjoys working in an OPO. For this, companies have to provide the right settings to get the full advantage of an OPO. Workers should be able to feel comfortable instead of feeling constrained.
In this post, we will identify the benefits of working in an OPO and provide you with some tips on how to improve your focus while working next to everyone. We’ll also identify what measures can help companies make their OPO a success.
Benefits of working in an open plan office
With an open space office, you have more flexibility and communication but less privacy. We can say every workplace setting has its own pros and cons. Let’s focus on some of the positives of OPO:
The most obvious advantage of an OPO is the ease of communication and improved accessibility. With no physical barriers in place, employees are free to communicate with one another. An open space office naturally boosts collaboration, a sense of community, and makes everyone easily accessible. Besides, workers feel more comfortable networking with other creatives.
It is more cost-effective to build an OPO than setting up private offices and cubicles. Business owners don’t have to buy large individual desks and other equipment needed for cubicles or offices. So, it’s a good decision to rent a space with an open office layout.
Ease of facilitating more employees
Open-space offices make it easier for business owners to maximize flexibility. If you run a business, you don’t have to build more rooms for new employees. New employees can easily fit into an open space. If the number of employees is increasing at a rapid pace, you can simply readjust the layout to facilitate more people.
- No barriers
Do you know why more and more companies are choosing open offices? Because it helps them remove unnecessary barriers between employees and managers. A manager sitting in an open office is more approachable. In most startup cases, even the founders work with their employees on the same floor.
4 Tips on how to focus better in an OPO
An open plan office can be noisy. Plenty of movement on a floor can make it hard for individual workers to focus on their job. So, what can you do as a leader to turn your open plan office into a highly productive workplace? Here are four tips that will help employees focus while working in an open office:
Create different destinations
In an OPO, everybody should be able to work individually and collaboratively. This is how you easily foster innovation. To achieve this goal, companies should consider creating destinations to facilitate both group and solo work. People work alone at their desks, attend meetings in a meeting room, collaborate as a small group in a breakout room or be a part of video conferences in a multimedia room.
You can create different destinations depending on the unique needs of your business or employees. Whatever workplace settings you implement, your OPO should be able to accommodate every situation. While your employees spend most of their time working in an open space, your office should have destinations to help employees carry out different work-related activities.
Most importantly, you need to train your people on how to effectively work in an OPO. Create a culture that encourages workers to move around while maintaining their productivity and focus. Coffee check-ins, walking meetings, or working in the backyard are some of the innovative workplace trends.
Encourage meaningful conversations
A quiet OPO sounds like a depressing place. Doesn’t it? One of the prime objectives to create an OPO is to improve communication, remove barriers, and boost productivity. If you observe a strange silence in your OPO, do something about it. Encourage your teams to collaborate and have conversations. Face-to-face conversations are a powerful communication tool. People prefer electronic interaction when employers discourage open conversations.
Ask your senior executives or HR managers to set the example by walking through the office and talking openly with others. When everyone on a floor is free to have open conversations, they feel energetic and upbeat.
Imagine a workplace where people don’t respect each other. It wouldn’t be an ideal place for anyone to work comfortably. An OPO works when people are trained to respect their colleagues, their personal space and time. The lack of privacy in an open space makes it hard for workers to have private conversations. Solution? Create dedicated places that can be used for private calls or meetings.
Feel free to make small adjustments
As an employee, you can do the following to better focus in an open plan office:
- Let your colleagues know the complexities of your project and that you prefer not to be disturbed.
- Use sound-canceling headphones if you have to work with 1perpetual background noise.
- Communicate your concerns with your colleagues in a respectful, humorous way.
- Remove unnecessary stuff off your desk to minimize distractions.
- Strengthen your ability to focus by trying simple exercises.
Open plan offices offer creative, fun environments where employees can not only maximize their productivity but also work towards building a healthy company culture. Both employers and employees need to work towards creating a productive, healthy open plan office where people take care of each other's needs.