The sentiment is nice. “Flexible work space” rolls off the tongue as part of the latest office trend, followed by “open offices.” After all, what kind of organization wants to fall behind the times?
A flexible office is not just doublespeak for economical real estate. Done correctly, it turns the entire office into a resource that everyone can plug into when they need. The problems arise when you lose sight of what the office can do and start to alienate your team. This is why scheduling systems and coordination apps have grown over the past few years.
If you’re in an office going through this change, or the person responsible for shepherding your colleagues to the promised land of “on-demand” rooms, here are some tips for crossing the flexible workspace chasm:
Make available options extremely visible
Put it on the company intranet and shared calendars. Post office maps in highly trafficked places, with labels calling out available resources. Put a digital version online. Adding new tools? Update them regularly so your co-workers learn they can trust the information. Broken window theory applies to inaccurate room reservations too, and those problems compound.
Humans are creatures of habit, and sometimes they need to be reminded of their permission to use resources nearby. Give permission openly, loudly, and frequently.
Display which areas are for privacy and deep thinking
How easy is it to tune out noise and focus in your office? According to a 2013 study from Gensler, “employees who can effectively focus are 57% more able to collaborate, 88% more able to learn, and 42% more able to socialize in their workplace.” How’s that for rewarding?
Employees who can effectively focus are 57% more able to collaborate and 88% more able to learn
Is privacy an option without holding a meeting? Don’t mistake a conference room for a private space. Lamenting the inefficiencies of meetings is preaching to the choir in most companies, but conference rooms may represent the only option for solitude. In many offices, co-workers will convert them into their personal ad hoc staging area for the day, with enough papers to republish the collective works of Shakespeare scattered around the table. Maybe that’s where you’re reading this from.
Have a strong culture around “No meeting” zones, especially in open offices, and you’ll empower your team to help enforce the rules themselves.
Learning how spaces are being used can be challenging, especially in open offices. Luckily, our analytics can help you find exactly what you need to improve workplace productivity and efficiency.