NAPW Feature Story: Work It! Coexisting in an Open-Office Space
You know the feeling – there’s noise all over, you can’t think straight, the boss wants that report now. As the walls came crumbling down in offices nationwide, it’s been harder and harder for employees to get the job done. Or has it?
Originally designed to create a unique way for professional women and men to be more collaborative, the open-plan office is being questioned for its effectiveness. A study by Gensler, a global design/architecture firm that surveyed more than 2,000 workers in America as part of its 2013 U.S. Workplace Survey, has been widely cited recently because of its findings that collaboration-friendly office spaces may actually hinder an employee’s ability to focus. On the upside, Diane Hoskins, one of Gensler’s co-chief executive officers, pointed out that there are steps employers and employees can take to improve productivity. “What we learned is that focus and collaboration aren’t in conflict; they are complements,” she said.
So let’s work it together!
Here are a few ways coworkers can coexist in an open-office environment.
Respect your coworkers and their workspace. Common sense goes a long way in fostering peaceful coexistence in a communal space. That means keeping noise level down and being mindful of boundaries. If you must meet with colleagues, move the meeting to a private space.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Everyone reacts differently to an open-office environment. For some, informal interaction with coworkers by simply calling to them across the desk or strolling to their workspace for a meeting is great. The key is to be aware of your coworkers’ work styles and personalities. Talk to your employer about designating different spaces in the office to accommodate everyone’s needs during a work day.
Define Your Space
Take a tip from Star Jones, National Spokesperson for the National Association of Professional Women. A recent blog article she wrote about achieving work/life balance, points out how NAPW employees make their office space their own, “Whether they have their own office, a cubicle or a shared workspace, our employees surround themselves with photographs of loved ones, flowers from their gardens, vacation mementos that make them smile along with words that inspire them.”
We want to hear from you! Tell us what you do to help stay focused during the work day. Do you work in an open-office space or in a traditional office setting? What about your space do you like or dislike?