Friday, May 9, 2014

Making adjustments for best workplace environments

As discussed before, the newest trend in office design is the collaborative open layout in which employees are encouraged to work together and share ideas.  This new trend stems from the surge of Millennials into the workforce using technology continuously.  An open workplace reflects the environment of a classroom or coffee shop in which employees bounce ideas off each other and think creatively by communicating with those around them. Open environments require smaller rental space commitments, and are less expensive to clean, as well as heat and cool and so are popular with business owners cutting costs. Although the open concept may work well for extroverts who are inspired by visual interaction and energized by being around others, for introverts these surroundings may prove to be more a hindrance to productivity than a motivator.  

There is a distinct difference between the way introverts and extroverts tend to function in office space.  Some extroverts are extremely productive and creative when they are surrounded by other employees throughout the workday; but many introverts need a quiet office to achieve the greatest productivity.  There must be a way for both types of employees to achieve optimal performance at work.

It's a good idea for businesses to periodically assess what kind of social environment their employees are creating. Study work patterns, and look for problematic workplace interactions (these are often not hidden!). Survey your employees both formally and informally. At least some of the problems your business experiences may stem directly from workplace arrangements, and those can be surprisingly easy to change through desk swaps or targeted scheduling. 

Some businesses also allow their employees the option of working from home.  The employer is still able to monitor the employee’s progress day to day through various tools such as telecommunicating, Skype, or email.  Another option is to provide both an open concept layout for those who work better in a group setting and a closed, quiet room for those who work better alone.  In a decently sized office space, a separation of rooms can be achieved with removable walls and office furniture that is easy to move.  
Conference rooms are another space to use for group work. They often go unused and could be added to the mixed of differently used work environments.  

While Millennials have a reputation for being more comfortable in groups, there are, of course, plenty of introverted representatives of Gen Y. Workers from other generations will also appreciate the option of being able to work in private and focus entirely on one project at least part of the time. Using your office space in the best way to maximize productivity of your employees is extremely important both for productivity and the maintenance of healthy work relationships. Providing a space that all people feel comfortable will benefit everyone in your company. Do not be afraid to try a number of solutions in your attempts to create the best arrangements. Long term workplace harmony is worth a bit of construction dust.

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