The Open Plan Office: A Survival Guide
Cost savings and technology are behind the seemingly unstoppable mania for open plan offices.
Sharing a workspace in a busy environment can be stressful, but with thought and consideration open plan working can be managed and managed well. Too much noise - even low level noise - can be counterproductive and unhealthy.
On one hand communication and the flow of ideas can be improved, but at the cost of increased interruptions and intrusions. Employees in open plan environments can feel 'snoopervised' and devalued. And everyone welcomes increased levels of social interaction. How to deal with people with loud voices, and colleagues who see their office environment as an extension of their house?
Aims of workshop
The aims of the workshop are to explore the 'back story' behind open plan offices, outline their advantages and disadvantages and to consider how design, acoustics, lighting and air quality all plan a part in an employee's enjoyment of their workspace. Participants will also consider the psychological aspects of open plan working. Agreeing workspace courtesies is good way to ensure that participants will learn to survive and thrive in their open plan office.
At the conclusion of the workshop, participants should be able to:
- Outline the advantages and disadvantages of open plan offices
- Understand how open plan offices brings together architectural design, ergonomics and human foibles
- Describe sources of irritation in shared work areas and how they may impact on people cognitively, emotionally and physiologically
- Evaluate a variety of approaches to minimise potentially disruptive workflow patterns and jarred nerves
- Understand the purpose of cooperative workspace rules
Participants may be introduced to a range of subjects drawing on:
- Counters, cubicles, open plan workspaces, private offices: why design and layout matters
- Managing the change from the traditional office to open plan environments
- Poor lighting, air quality sources of noise and other distractions
- Absorb, block and cover: sound advice for the noisy workspace
- Privacy and related issues of task complexity
- Open plan office courtesies
- Telephone etiquette
- Managing everyday annoyances: 'snooper vision', roving eyes and hands, overcrowding, lack of light, too hot/too cold, unwanted conversations, etc
- Attitude is sometimes more important than aptitude!
- Drawing up workspace courtesies
- Ideas for enjoying open plan working