My business has an open-office plan.
When you walk through a lean corridor, you see a slew of tables facing each other. Staff members work facing each other, and when people bark orders at each other, all they have to do is talk loudly across the table.
A big reason why we have an open office plan is that it saves space.
Our office is only a humble 88-sqm (950 square feet), consisting of a safe/vault room to keep our inventory, a large conference room for training, and a general working area for all staff.
I have a big table in the center of the room (no corner office for me), but I usually sit in the conference room when there’s no training with the sliding doors open. The room temperature is comfortable for me, and I have the big wide conference table to work on. From inside the conference room, I can give out orders at random, and everyone can hear me.
Just imagine, if I have an office, not only will it eat whatever small space I have, but it also limits my presence as a leader. While I may have my privacy, I wouldn’t be able to see and hear what’s going outside as conveniently and I won’t be able to do my job well.
Two, it equalizes every staff member.
I always tell my staff that there is nobody superior to each other. This means that everyone has their own roles and responsibilities to fulfill and nobody is in charge of each other. Even our 21-year old cannot be bullied by a supervisor to buy them coffee or lunch. A supervisor should always buy her own lunch, thank you very much.
The golden rule is alive in our office, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”
This allows open communication and less politicking amongst our small office. If people know that they have to please a superior, they might forgive that superior and hide their faults to me in fear of earning that superior’s wrath.
But if everyone is of equal rank and are given the obligation of reporting directly to me, the general manager, then they are more deadset in working FOR me and pleasing me, and hence, productivity increases.
I like it when there’s less politics in the office. More work gets done.
One of my supervisor who came from a highly political office shared with me that their general manager then used to invite and go out drinking with her subordinates in the evening. She will then carry out a grudge which flows over the work place if you do not join these drinking parties.
Now, that’s politics at its worst. I don’t want my company to be tarnished with too much drama and personal feelings. Work is work and I’d rather judge people by their own merits instead of how they can hold their drink.
Three, it gets a lot of work done easier.
People just have to pass papers across the table. They can just bark instructions. Everyone can hear and see each other.
If you’re working, I know you’re working. If you’re Facebooking and slacking off, I know this as well. No point to have CCTVs. All I have to do is to stick my neck out and I can already see what’s going on.
Of course, there’s less privacy but at least more work can be done.
Anyway, open work spaces is not for everyone. But that’s one thing about being a general manager and choosing what type of work environment you will have.
For me, almost all the offices I’ve worked in had open work spaces and we did just fine. Sure, the head of equities had his own room, but everyone else shared the same work spaces and there was more benefits than there were negatives.
So if you’re a new business and considering what type of work space layout to have, I’m all for open work spaces. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions!
Forbes: Is an Open Office Plan Healthy for your Staff? February 1, 2017, Melissa Thompson (Contributor)