Gone are the days of a company having rows and rows of individual hard walled offices…….Especially with software and tech companies. With the evolving work environment, today's office spaces are more open where employees either sit in desks, cubicles, or have the option of plugging in where ever they want.
You hear popular buzzwords such as flexible, efficient, collaborative, lean, etc that describe the so-called perfect workspace design today. However does that mean that this type of office environment is right for everyone? Probably not. Before your company decides to completely redesign your office to mirror todays office space “trends” make sure you ask yourself the following questions.
How much office space do I really need?
In the past office space designers would estimate about 250 sf per person which accounted for a number hard wall offices and other private rooms. These days, depending on the industry and culture that number has been reduced to about 125 to 200 sf per person. In addition with more people being allowed to work remotely your office may only be partially occupied at any given time.
How can employees have privacy when needed?
There are times when employees need privacy especially ones with roles that require a lot of focus and concentration. If you are going to create a primarily open office design then make sure you incorporate some private meeting rooms, office pods, or phone rooms where employees can take calls or work on projects with no distractions.
Do I want to encourage a flat hierarchy and sociability?
Some companies are creating open office environments for the employees to sit together however the managers and executives still have private offices. If you really want this new design to work and for employees to get behind it then you may want to require that the managers and executives sit in the open areas also. This will allow them to actually get to know their people and departments. And by seating people in team clusters rather than based on a hierarchy you will encourage more conversation, transparency, and participation.
How can my office space be multi-purposed?
If you plan on adding additional headcount later on and don't want to have any space go unused then deign your space in a way that allows each room or area to be used for different purposes. For example you could install a glass collapsible wall that can create two conference rooms out of one large one. It might cost a little more up front however the long term benefits are priceless. Consider buying tables, chairs, and whiteboards with wheels so they can easily be moved around and you can reconfigure space on the fly.
Do I want areas for employees to socialize and relax?
Everyone one loves hanging out and working in a coffee shop. Consider turning your boring break area into a coffee shop. Cool tables and chairs or a bar area where employees can access wifi, work, drink coffee and work along other coworkers. You can also make sure to incorporate other areas that allow people to relax and socialize such as work out rooms and outside eating areas.
There is a huge debate between whether open office space designs actually make people collaborative and productive. Obviously you have to strike a fine balance between having open office space and private offices. Recognize what makes your employees productive and happy by creating zones for heads down focus work and zones for collaborative work. That way you still get to save money by having efficient open office space but also make those employees happy who prefer a little more privacy.