Last July, when I walked into SmartSites for my training session, I didn’t expect to see what I saw. Having come from an office where the amount of light that seeped into the hallway depended on how wide each door was open, it was surprising to be greeted with an entire room full of people at one time.
As soon as the door closed behind me, I entered the very slim hallway (which was really just a two second view of the kitchen area), and then a large space with six curious faces glancing at me from behind their screens. Each person rose to meet me halfway, giving me a friendly smile and shaking my hand. As nervous as I was for my first day, it was comforting for everyone to welcome me all at once.
What is an Open Floor Plan?
The open floor setting is beneficial for building stronger professional and personal relationships in the office and facilitating communication between co-workers. Our office is arranged with groups of 4 desks with 2 computers at each desk. Each person is separated by the computer and has some extra space to him/herself. While personal privacy is somewhat limited, group projects are accomplished without the need to knock on doors to set up and gather everyone together for meetings. Discussing what we should order for lunch on Fridays is not taxing, but entertaining as we exchange our thoughts about pizza or Thai aloud.
It didn’t take me long to get adjusted to the open floor plan. I came to enjoy the convenience of having my co-workers in close proximity, the faint sound of music coming from headphones, and the brief sharing of anecdotes to lighten the mood. The open floor plan makes me feel like I am part of the team. So long as the conversation is spoken out loud, I am included and could participate, if I desired.
Open Floor vs. Closed Floor
The way each space is organized depends on the work environment. In a company like SmartSites, where we’re constantly working with one another and bouncing ideas off each other, having the open floor helps. But each plan has its specific benefits and drawbacks. While for some, seeing their co-workers hard at work increases their productivity, others may find so many people in one room distracting. Some people prefer surrounding themselves with everyone’s constant energy, others prefer concentrating on their work in a quiet space. It’s important to choose a work space based on how your business functions.
I would definitely recommend the open office plan for companies who prefer the convenience of easy interaction or need to be in constant communication with co-workers because of projects or meetings. For those who enjoy a bit of socialization throughout the day and like the presence of others during the work day, this structure is the way to go.