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What’s the Future of Open Office Environments?

What’s the Future of Open Office Environments?

 The WorkSlice Team    

There is no shortage of discussion around the ubiquitous ‘open office’. More often than not, the articles you see in the news paint the picture of a negative user experience–distractions galore that decrease productivity and greatly offset any cost savings of a smaller corporate real estate footprint. According to research from our parent company, Stegmeier Consulting Group (SCG), these often-demonized floor plans are not disappearing any time soon. In fact, the State of the Open Office Research Study indicates that the vast majority of upcoming workplace projects will incorporate some component of an open plan design.

For organizations embarking upon a journey to a more collaborative, open work plan, there is a lot SCG can do to change behaviors and prepare employees for new ways of working, such as working with an employee engagement group to facilitate the creation of workplace protocols, to guide conduct in the new work environment. While WorkSlice can also be used as a change management tool, especially with a gamification component to reward employees for embracing activity based working, a WorkSlice study, perhaps more importantly, can help your organization arrive at the appropriate design solution.

By conducting a WorkSlice study in advance of a restack or HQ redesign, you can learn which current work spaces are most desirable, which spaces employees hate to use, and why this is the case. In enabling employees to offer feedback on the current construct of your office, you’ll be able to easily and cost-effectively uncover employee needs, allowing you to tailor the new work environment to how your people actually want and need to work.

Let’s say you are a part of a large workplace refresh project, which will take employees out of private offices and cubicles into an unassigned, activity-based work environment. The project will have a number of phases, and after each phase, you’d like to solicit feedback from the end users who are occupying the new environment, with the hope of understanding what works for them and what they’d want changed. This feedback will allow you to modify components of the design (layout, materials, or even address behaviors) so that forthcoming move phases result in a smoother transition to new ways of working.

With WorkSlice, you can map out the new floor plan and determine what criteria you want to study. If you’re concerned with visual privacy, audible distractions, and air temperature impacting employees’ ability to focus, you can easily make this a focal point of the study. You might also remember that, during initial planning, a number of employees were sick of their dingy cubicles and wanted better access to natural light and improved task lighting. As a WorkSlice administrator, you can set the criteria of your study so that each employee will be asked the following questions (or something similar per the language or specificity [task lighting instead of lighting] you’d prefer) upon selecting the space they used:

  • Please rate the visual privacy of this space. [1-5 scale, clickable image]
  • Please rate the quietness of this space. [1-5 scale, clickable image]
  • Please rate the temperature of this space. [likert scale, clickable image]
  • Please rate the lighting of this space. [likert scale, clickable image]

As users complete reviews of the available spaces, the results become available in real time in the WorkSlice administrator portal.  Drill down to the type of space you’re interested in, perhaps Reservable Project Rooms, or perhaps narrow your results further to a specific room.  If results for visual privacy are poor, you may deduce that the glass walls of these spaces should be frosted to obscure the view of the many people walking by.  Your suspicion could also be corroborated by reaching out to the individuals who indicated that privacy is lacking, information that is readily available in the reporting metrics.

Besides payroll, a company’s real estate overhead is often the 2nd most costly expense.  With more and more companies embracing the open office plan, it’s incredibly important to ensure that your workplace meets the marks for employee needs and that employees are using the space as intended.  By conducting a WorkSlice study before and after a workplace transition, your organization will be armed with valuable data that can ensure these objectives are being met.


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