Open office floor plans have been around for a while, but for companies that have compartmentalized office spaces – that is, individual offices and segregated cubicles – taking walls down can be a huge shock and adjustment for employees used to working in their own space.
Recently we came across this interesting article on BBC.com that showcases how some innovative companies around the world are opening up their office spaces not only to save cost, but also to encourage collaboration, flexibility and work-life balance. Some employees love the change, while others find the adjustment challenging.
Being a small company, we’re also embracing the open floor plan concept here at Lux. While some of us are used to open floor plans, a few of us are just getting used to working in such an environment. For the most part, though, our open office space has positively enhanced our team dynamic.
What we’re finding is that the lack of walls is encouraging communication and impromptu meetings.
Here’s what our team had to say about Lux’s open office space:
“It forces us to be highly responsive and flexible, which is what we stand for. Internally, we don’t have to send emails or set up meetings to discuss projects, we can talk to anyone at anytime and get an immediate response.” – Claire Booth, President, Lux Insights
It’s also built a culture of transparency that benefits all employees.
“Everyone knows what’s going on without the need to have meetings. You hear things, and everyone is on the same page and knows what’s going on in the business because we’re so close. It brings people together.” – Hanson Lok, Director, Lux Insights
“At my last job, I was in a cubicle and I couldn’t see anyone. At times I felt lonely. Here, it’s more collaborative and fun. We can have casual conversations, and the open space makes it easier to do that.” – Carmen Chang, Senior Research Manager, Lux Insights
“It’s interesting here, because when one person talks, we all talk to each other and everyone is included in the conversation.” – Frankie Aeng, Coordinator, Lux Insights
The only real downside: privacy.
“If people need to disconnect and focus on their work, it can be hard. Short of putting up signs and using the boardroom, it can be difficult to work undisturbed if you need to.” – Hanson
“If I need to make a private call, I have to go outside, which isn’t always ideal. And, if people want to listen to music, they can’t because it might disturb others.” – Claire
“I wish I had more privacy on the phone. I like using the boardroom, but I still feel like I am distracting people because I know the boardroom is not completely soundproof.” – Frankie
But overall, the upsides to having an open office outweigh the downsides here at Lux. A solution to the privacy issue will be to eventually divide the large boardroom into two, making one side a private room to work or use the phone.
As of right now, employees are encouraged to work from home if they need to focus on a task undisturbed. Eventually, Claire sees the office also including a separate space that would be for her primary use, but that others could use when they need a private space.
“I’d have a hard time putting in offices at this point. The open space is so valuable for our team dynamic and the culture we’ve built around it.” – Claire