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Working without borders: How to create & maintain an open plan office

Working without borders: How to create & maintain an open plan office

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Open plan offices are the layout of the future. More and more we are seeing modern start-ups utilise this layout as a way to optimise productivity and collaboration.

When created correctly, these spaces can be a utopia for work as everybody feels equal and included. However, there are elements that need to be factored in to ensure that staff don't feel isolated, overtly stressed, or distracted within an area that includes so many voices.

Here, we discuss how to not only create an inclusive open plan office, but also maintain it so to create a harmonious and happy space for all of those within it.

Consider the interior decisions

One of the most major aspects to consider when creating your open plan office is the office design itself. As this is the centre in which employees will be spending the majority of their time.

As the space won't be broken up into various sections and alternate rooms, it's important to consider the feeling the space will give off. One of the best choices to make with an open plan office is to opt for a warm and inviting design with functional and comfortable furniture that almost resembles that of a home.

This not only creates a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere, but with the strategic furnishing placement, noise is likely to be absorbed, which is imperative in this kind of environment.

It is also vital when creating your office to look at the long term logistics of the space. You need to ensure you plan out the static elements, of course, you want the option to rejig and switch up the office should you decide to, but, having stable elements like powerpoints for important electronics, as well set areas like a meeting room, and a kitchen is imperative to the long term success of the open plan space.

Setting boundaries

When creating an open plan working space, you need to consider that this room will be filled with varying people with different priorities, workloads, temperaments and a plethora of other factors.

As a result, it's important to set some boundaries so that the office remains happy and harmonious. This can include certain topics that are kept to a minimum during working hours, or even minor things, like avoiding certain foods that come with a pungent scent, the aim of the game in an open plan office is to create a harmonious atmosphere that lifts people up and is free of tension.

With that in mind, you don't want to disrupt this flow with actions that seem inconsiderate of others. So, trying to keep your volume at an appropriate level, keeping your topics suitable for the workplace, and just overall respecting your workmates boundaries is the way to have a successful open plan space.

Of course, as with any area where there are an abundance of people of different ages, with different backgrounds or priorities, there are bound to be situations in which tensions arise, but being open with communication and explaining your boundaries to others is the prime way to eliminate further problems.

Remember, people, especially your colleagues, likely aren't trying to upset you, but keeping them in the know about how things make you feel will ensure you and those around you feel comfortable at your workplace, and are able to maintain a productive flow.

Make room for a quiet working area

Whilst an open plan office is a fantastic way to collaborate and bring everybody together to feel as though they are a part of the team, sometimes, you do in fact need a quieter working space.

This can be for a number of reasons; for example, in a workplace meetings still need to be held, and having them in the same area as everyone else is not appropriate, as the content of the meeting may be sensitive or private, and it also disrupts everybody else's flow.

As well as this, as with any space with a large group of people, the dynamic of the space can change on any given day. Sometimes an open plan space may be more lively and overexcited, and for those who are under the crunch to deliver work, this can be stressful and disruptive.

Whilst everyone should always try and be respectful, these moments are just inevitable. It could be because it's friday afternoon, somebody's birthday, somebody's last day, or simply just a moment of excitement amongst the team.

So, with this in mind, having another space outside of the open plan area gives workers the option to move away from the central space if they feel they need to for a moment of solace and relaxation or alternatively, a chance to work more productively, without the fear of disruption.

Whether it's through creating static elements within the office area, like a quiet working space, or a partially obstructed kitchen area to avoid too much excess noise.

Or, perhaps it's through constant open communication to ensure all those within the open plan feel heard and appreciated, an open plan office is a fantastic and modern environment to work within. So, with the correct design and continued respect, your open plan office can be a monumental success for all employees to enjoy.