It's been over a decade since the popularity of open-concept office design started growing at a double-digit pace, replacing traditional corner offices and high-walled cubicles. This form of interactive working space is still one of the top office design trends today. However, this approach to workplace design is not without its issues, especially since it deprives employees of any form of privacy and thus, ability to focus on their work, which has a negative effect on their productivity. So, let us see some of the best design solutions to make the open concept work, while not disrupting the actual work.
Decide on the layout
The office layout should be determined by the basic goals and ideas of your company. Some companies that insist on collaboration opt for non-linear layout, so that the employees wouldn’t feel constrained. Others prefer the traditional parallel desk arrangement, while some insist on arranging the desks in a long row.
Establish some enclosed spaces
Although open space offices have their advantages including promoting collaboration and creativity, as well as using far less space than formal offices, they sometimes prevent efficient communication and brainstorming, especially for employees who function better when working independently. There are ways to create enclosed spaces for such situations without compromising the size of the office. You can use L-shaped workstations or install sliding glass doors to provide meeting spaces and storage solutions.
Create a relaxed atmosphere
All the benefits of open office design fall into water if they come down to hundreds of desks arranged in long rows through the space. Such arrangement does not promote socializing and collaboration. Instead it makes people feel shy and uncomfortable. Employees will feel much more willing to communicate and mingle among their coworkers if the atmosphere is relaxed and similar to that of a coffee shop (cozy lounging and available coffee).
Introduce moveable furniture
Open space workplaces are designed for extroverts, but not all employees are that willing to spend their day surrounded by a bunch of people. For people who need privacy to perform their tasks, it is very useful to have movable furniture, such as ergonomic office chairs with wheels and cabinets and desks that can be reconfigured and repositioned easily. This way they will be able to switch between different layouts.
Provide alternative seating solutions
The majority of today’s employees are made of Millennials, and besides not being huge fans of all-things conventional, this generation also likes to take care of their health. Sitting longer than eight hours can cause serious health issues, including neck and back pain. There are several ways to shake things up a bit and simultaneously aid your employees’ health and productivity. You can introduce standing desks, kneeling desks, yoga balls or treadmill desks. These options will help eliminate the “3 o’clock slump” and increase your employees’ energy levels.
Flexible seating arrangement
Another way to break down the office monotony and please the ever-demanding Millennials is to allow them to try out different seating positions and sit wherever they want. For example, some people prefer to work by the window, while others like to be closer to the center of the room, so that they are in the middle of everything that is going on.
Keep the color consistent
Some people try to create boundaries in an open concept office by using a lot of contrasting colors. However, this can create quite the opposite effect and increase stress levels in the office. It is best to stick to one color scheme throughout the space and create boundaries (if needed) with smaller furniture (e.g. chairs, bean bags) and accessories. The furniture style should also serve as a unifying element and be consistent throughout the office.
By following these tips you will get all the benefits of an open-concept workplace, while avoiding falling into the most frequent openoffice traps.