Depending on who you listen to, open plan environments either dramatically increase your collaboration and creativity… or decrease your effectiveness and health… Hmmm who to listen to!
There are many statistics I found on the good (and bad effects) of open plan, I chose to take the positive side (you know me, glass is always not only half full, but overflowing and waiting for more water to be poured in!).
When leading a team; wanting to maximize their productivity and manage their attention, here are three strategies to assist make the most of this growing trend:
Know the do’s and don’ts – We have made a list for you and a few common do’s are: invest in headphones for the team to block out distraction, keep your space clear and tidy and items securely locked away and respect others privacy. A few don’ts include: never use speaker phone (so thoughtless), don’t heat up smelly lunch in the microwave, never intrude on others conversations or provide unsolicited advice. Creating a simple operating agreement with your team is a great strategy to foster collaboration.
Know your style – If you are an introvert you may need quiet thinking time (book a conference room to complete strategic work) or you may be an extrovert and constantly seeking input of others (you may also like to book a room for brainstorming). I loved Susan Cain’s TED talk and also her book Quiet: Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. A great read if you manage introverts, if you are an extrovert… or if you just want to know how to get the most out of your talented team.
Know the culture –are your team constantly collaborating on big sales deals, new marketing promotions or solving customer issues? They might require more collaborative spaces, include couches, conference rooms and breakouts. If they like to work alone and require strategic thinking time consider less meetings, more use of headphones and do not disturb signs.
Open plan environments can be highly productive, or massively disruptive – you decide. Allow your team to pay attention to what really matters and create guidelines for managing their focus during the day and achieving their results.