November 02, 2015

Jonah Engler recently offered some helpful insights in his article at, where he offered some thoughts about how the design of your office can play an important role in the productivity and reputation of your business.  He explains that mazes of cubicles and other outdated office designs lead to employee demoralization and to constant interruptions that decrease productivity.  Further, for customers or clients of the business, an outdated cubicle-centered office design communicates that your business is noton the cutting edge but is lagging behind, likely in ways that go beyond mere office design.

Perhaps most importantly, he offers in this article some ideas for how businesses can set up their offices to maximize productivity.  He suggests having different areas and types of furniture available for employees to work at - perhaps some tall tables where employees can stand while they work, other large tables for collaborating, and some solo desks for grinding out individual work.  Rooms can be focused on different types of tasks, with a "quiet room" where employees can work without anyone stopping by and interrupting them, and other collaborative spaces of various sizes intended for team members to put their heads together.  He suggests that by "opening up the cubicles" and moving to an open office plan with more collaborative spaces, employees will feel less trapped and will be more productive.

We agree!  We think having a mixture of individual desks and mid-to-large conference tables around your office space will enable employees to work in whatever fashion they need to.  It will enable them to collaborate when they need to, without simply being interrupted at inconvenient moments that might take away their train of thought and halt their progress.  We also love the idea of having "quiet zones" where employees know not to interrupt each other.  This seems to have been the idea around private offices with doors, but folks still interrupt those with private offices, and dedicating so much square footage to one employee is often not practical for businesses today.

This type of office design, though, is often difficult for those who thrive on solo work time - introverts.  Elan Morgan, in an excellent article about how introverts can thrive while working in an open office plan, offers five helpful tips.  Karl Stark and Bill Stewart provide more tips for staying productive within an open office, particularly for the introvert.  Both articles provide similar tips for how individuals can stay productive - by providing visual cues to show your fellow employees you are working on a solo project and need privacy, by setting aside chunks of alone time (perhaps over lunch), by capitalizing on times that are typically quieter around the office, and by setting aside time to socialize. 

These tips go perfectly with Mr. Engler's suggestion for companies to set up various spaces for various tasks, including a space for solo work, spaces for collaboration, and even spaces intended for socializing.  We agree that if an open office is done right, with all personality types and particular roles in mind, it can be a wildly successful strategy for increasing productivity, creating a friendly and collaborative work environment, and impressing clients or customers with your progressive and forward thinking!

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