DATE: 03/07/2016

It’s a challenge – you’d like to save money by leasing a smaller space (and building a collaborative work set-up), but you don’t want to take away the privacy your employees have become accustomed to. Frankly, your concerns are justified.

According to a 2013 University of Sydney study, lack of sound privacy is the biggest deterrent to employee morale. The annoying chatter of coworkers in the distance, whether discussing something work-related or not, can seriously hamper productivity.

We’re talking as much as 86 minutes wasted a day, according to furniture-maker Steelcase.

While most open-office employees would be quick to list off the benefits they now enjoy from the switch – enhanced feelings of camaraderie, reduced hierarchical boundaries and increased efficiency – many of those same individuals also feel bothered by the inconveniences inherent in collaborative workspaces that few employers fail to directly address.

With that said, here are 3 tips for successfully integrating open office furniture into your San Antonio space:

Tackle The Noise Issue Head-On

Again, this is by far the biggest concern employees have when switching to an open office. Ease fears right away by assuring staff you’re fully aware of potential issues posed by the project and are taking a multi-tiered approach to minimizing noise disturbances. And just what does a multi-tiered approach look like?

  • Outfitting workstations with low-level partitions that have been specifically engineered to absorb sounds.
  • Installing affordable, “background noise” sound systems that play white noise through strategically placed speakers.
  • Gifting employees with noise-canceling headphones or offering a subsidy to offset the cost of purchase.
  • Creating a company culture that values respectful noise volume behavior.

Draft & Distribute Company Guidelines

Before you even begin picking out furniture, you’ll want to outline the values, protocol and behavior that are instrumental in creating a successful collaborative work culture.

Remember, company culture begins at the top! As a leader, your job is to get clear on what is and is not acceptable behavior for your office. Instead of just handing your staff a list of rules, explain the thought process behind the behaviors you desire. The irony? Your staff won’t really need rules if they understand and align with your overarching vision.

But here are some questions to consider addressing:

  • How can employees visually signify they are “in the zone” and are not to be interrupted?
  • Are there areas of the office that are “quiet only” zones?
  • Is it OK to talk over your immediate neighbor? Nooo.
  • Do all mobile devices need to be turned on silent?
  • What is considered a “reasonable” voice level?

Minimize Distracting Odors

While Joe make think Kung-Pow Chicken is the best invention since the automobile, Margaret may think it smells terrible. Similarly, while Margaret may adore her patchouli oil perfume, Joe may find it nauseating.

The solution? Take a vote as an office on what scents will and will not be allowed. The majority of workers may agree that heady perfumes should be reserved for weekends and that lunches should be eaten in a specified dining area. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s done as a group.

As you can see, most open office issues can be avoided with a little forethought. Looking for a complimentary office assessment?

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