Although the public sector typically falls into the laggard category of adopting workplace trends, the open office layout is something that just cannot be avoided nowadays. According to a study conducted by Emerald Insight, over 70% of all offices have switched from cube farms to the open office layout. So whether you like it or not, government employees have to learn to adapt to this new shift in workspace configuration.
So what are the pros and cons of an open office layout? Check out the tidbits below to find out:
- Fosters a Symbolic Sense of Organizational Mission: Similar to the Situation Room, your team is all in one central location and working to accomplish whatever task the team has been assigned to complete.
- Easier to Receive Instantaneous Feedback or Information: There’s nothing better than swiveling around in your office chair and saying “Hey Terry, what’s our status on crunching those numbers?”
- Save Time Traveling Around the Office: With an open office layout, you save time tracking down your sought after coworkers or dashing around the building to make a meeting; all of these are generally nearby.
- Let the Sunshine In: Instead of being cooked up in your three wall birdcage, an open office layout allows for easier access to windows and natural light.
- Joining the Conversation: Being around the situation allows you to have better situational awareness of what’s what with the various programs and projects being completed in your office. Remember, knowledge is power.
- Lack of Privacy: Most of the time it may feel like there’s nowhere to run and hide. That’s because there’s in fact nowhere to run and hide.
- Girl/Boy Interrupted: An open office layout makes it incredibly easy for anyone to walk right up to your work station and disrupt your work flow.
- Decreased Productivity: Even though being in a cube may feel confining, employees are still less distracted by external stimuli versus the numerous distractions that come along with an open office layout (noise, side conversations, work station drive-bys etc.).
- Too Much Sitting: Having direct access to your coworkers may cause you to be less inclined to get up and walk around. Try to avoid this as according to a study conducted by the University of California, San Diego, sitting for too long is linked to high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol and too much belly fat.
After looking at the good and bad of an open office layout, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the bad. Read through these suggested remedies to alleviate some of the negatives of open office mania:
- Strategic Breaks: When the noise gets going maybe you should too. This is an opportune time for restroom breaks, face-to-face chats, coffee breaks, water cooler breaks, all kinds of necessary breaks.
- Earbuds Are Your Friends: Having an open office layout may allow for a great reason to purchase some Beats by Dre to cancel out any distracting noise floating around the office.
- Get In Earlier or Stay Later: Depending on the schedule of your office mates, it may be a good idea to either come in earlier or come in later then stay later. This should enable you to be in the office when it is quieter and easier to focus on any concentration-intensive tasks.
- Alternate Work Schedule/Telework Champions: A good way to avoid the cons of an open office layout is…to be in the office less! If your employer offers an alternate work schedule or teleworking, take advantage of this and get away from some of the distractions associated with open office configurations.
- Communication is Key: If your office-mates are being a little too boisterous or a meeting is getting a little too rowdy, then have no shame in poking your head around the corner and kindly asking them to lower the volume. Most of the time they may be not aware of their noise level.
So the moral of the story is to learn to adapt to this growing trend in office life. Please feel free to leave comments below on your experience with open office layouts.