Open spaces have been in fashion for a while, but that doesn’t mean that everything is going great all the time. To avoid problems and to make sure that everyone has their place in open space, there are several steps to follow and consider depending on your situation. But how to make your open space plan work for everyone?
1 / Talk with each employee
It’s important to know which people enjoy the open space and who it’s really difficult for. Knowing the people who may have difficulties working in open space is the first step to ensure that all employees can be at their most efficient. A small informal individual interview is necessary for you as a manager.
2 / Offer people to work from time to time in an isolated space
Once you find the people who may have difficulty working in open space, you will need to find solutions for them. One possible solution is to offer them to work from time to time in an isolated, quieter space so that they can concentrate and thus work effectively on their projects. This will give them confidence in time to adjust to the open space.
3 / Brainstorming outside of the open space
Sometimes you have to work alone, but sometimes you have to work in a group, especially during brainstorming. These brainstorms can be relatively noisy if you are not part of them and this can be a source of discomfort for some. When that happens, try to find an isolated room to let others work if the whole team is not involved in the project.
4 / Allow the possibility of using messaging to communicate
As a manager, you want everyone to be able to express themselves freely and thus share ideas and discuss them all together, but some find it uncomfortable. That’s why you shouldn’t force people to speak out loud, but give everyone time to feel comfortable enough to speak for themselves.
5 / Respect everyone’s personal space
An open space is a bit of a desk for everyone, and it’s difficult to have your own private space. If you run out of space you can put files on your neighbor’s desk, or watch how your neighbor’s desk is tidied up, … there are many ways to steal your neighbor’s space and hinder it. This is why it is important to keep in mind that even in an open space, everyone must have their space to be productive.
6 / Give everyone time to adapt
You will often have a new person in your open space, whether young graduates or older people who used to work alone in their office, you will have to give everyone time to adapt to their rhythm or you risk seeing them leave the company. For some people it will only take a few days to adapt, for others, it will take several months, each at their own pace of adaptation.
7 / Make small modifications if necessary
You will sometimes have to compromise and make some slight modifications in your open space to make things work. So you can let people have a photo of their family or a plant so that people feel more comfortable at their workstations and are more productive. This will not fundamentally change the idea of open space but will make it more welcoming to some.
Not everyone is made to work in open space, so it will take time to understand people who are having difficulties and find solutions to make them feel comfortable at their workstation to be effective in theirs work.