Getting rid of the cubicles and closed office doors for an open office layout can help your team engage more with each other, but you could lose productivity if the new layout isn't conducive to getting actual work done. For the best results, you need to provide the right furniture so employees can move around the office for different tasks while still finding enough support and privacy to concentrate. Try these four tips to make sure your new office furniture actually fits the needs of your team members.
1. Invest in Adjustable Equipment
While it's become standard to invest in desk chairs and other forms of seating that adjust to the user, an open office layout without assigned desks means the workstations and other surfaces also need to be adjustable. You can't expect two employees that have a foot and a half of height difference between them to both comfortably use the same work area without making some adjustments. This is especially crucial if you want to encourage team members to stand while working. There's no benefit to moving to an open layout for the office if it means that everyone has to sacrifice personal ergonomics in the process.
2. Designate Activity Zones
Consider what your employees do on a daily basis and what kind of environment they need to complete their work. For example, team members that spend most of their time on the computer designing marketing materials need different lighting, sound levels, and protection from distractions than human resources managers who are constantly talking with others about private information.
Activity zones allow you to produce the type of environment found in specialized offices while still offering a more open layout to encourage mingling and cooperation on large projects. For example, programmers could be tucked away in a corner with half-height partitions around their tables to give them more privacy and fewer distractions. Mixing everyone together regardless of their actual job duties will inevitable cause productivity to fall for at least one group of employees.
3. Make Surfaces Mobile
Most open offices offer mobile seating, but still rely on fixed tables and desks that the user must relocate to use. Think outside of the box by making each work surface as mobile as the rest of the office so the team can quickly reorganize the work space to fit their needs. For example, partitioned areas with mobile desks allow individuals to control how they use the space by choosing to place their back to the wall or to face the wall instead of getting stuck in one configuration.
Look for contemporary office furniture in your local area for further ideas.