The open plan office favoured by many businesses saw a huge change during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic as the standard ways of working changed. Desks were strategically placed to abide by social distancing rules and communal areas were often barred off. Now that a sense of normality has returned and no regulations are in place, it’s a great opportunity to reconsider the layout of your open plan offices.
We look at how you can use your open plan office most effectively with hybrid working, from open plan office design to the size of office space you should use. First, though, we need to know what these two factors are.
What Is An Open Plan Office?
An open plan office is a popular choice for many businesses. This concept does away with cubicles and enclosed spaces for each member of staff for an approach that is designed to encourage communication and collaboration between staff, teams, and departments.
This often takes the form of a large room, with optional meeting rooms that can be utilised when necessary. Open place office design allows for a lot of customisation and versatility, meaning a business can arrange things the way they want or to have the best impact. Whether it’s rows of desks, hubs for each team, or something else entirely, how to use the space is up to you.
Why Choose An Open Plan Office?
There are plenty of reasons to choose an open plan office. The main reason is to help foster a good work culture by encouraging interaction and communication between every employee in the company. Conversations can occur naturally, with hubs for social chatter away from working areas and colleagues close by when there’s a question to discuss or a project to work on together.
Another benefit is the number of open plan office ideas available to you. With an open space, you can use it however you see fit. This is better than adapting to a uniform standard that doesn’t suit the needs of your business or staff, whether that’s the layout, differing working spaces, or another way of creating a productive working environment.
What Is Hybrid Working?
Hybrid working is the term used to describe employees who spend part of their time working remotely and the rest in the workplace. It offers a good balance between keeping some of the flexibility and comfort of working from home and ensuring employees are present and able to form relationships with their colleagues.
There’s no rule over what the balance should be, with some businesses asking for a single day in the office and others asking for four days a week. Some people will naturally prefer the open plan office environment, so a measure of flexibility helps get the most out of every employee.
Open Plan Office Ideas That Work With Hybrid Working
There are plenty of ways to make an open plan office work well with a hybrid workforce, but some will have a bigger impact than others depending on the size of the business, what industry you operate in, and where you expect to be in the future. Some of these open plan office ideas can be combined instead of working alone.
Before implementing any changes, it’s a good idea to speak to your employees. These changes affect them as much as the business, and a compromise may need to be reached to ensure everyone accepts the new situation.
Create Different Working Areas
With an open plan office, you can use the space as you see fit. The simple option is to create rows of desks, or group people together by team or department, but this will fill the space in a very one-dimensional way and doesn’t allow you to make the most of what open plan office design has to offer.
Employees can sit at a desk and work anywhere, whether that’s at the office or at home, so what sets your workplace apart? With meeting rooms, social areas, quiet zones, and more, you can create different sections of the office for people to use . Depending on their tasks, or who they need to work with, there will be different spaces to use instead of a single workplace or home office atmosphere.
Focus On Collaboration
If your employees can do their work from anywhere, many will ask why they need to be in the office to do it. Even with the improvements of communication tools and platforms, sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone face-to-face, which is what being in the office can do.
Instead of creating a space that focuses on productivity, look at what an open plan office offers that remote working does not. This is mainly being able to work with people easily, so an emphasis on collaborative working, and areas or ways to do that will make the office much more useful to employees.
Booking Desks Can Make A Small Office Work
If you have a hybrid workforce where employees come into the office once or twice a week, you might find a small office is a better option. This makes it seem busier no matter who is in on a given day, and can even mean lower rental or mortgage costs each month.
Keep in mind that growth can make a small office turn from busy to cramped quickly, and on the days where more people come in, you can run out of space. Using a booking system for the desks can help people plan their time in the office more effectively, allowing them to work with the right people each time.
The Size Of Office Space Matters
When considering the size of office space available, the cost is one aspect but so is the comfort and atmosphere of the open plan office. In a small office, noise will travel a lot easier, and for those after a quiet environment, it can be harder to create. On the same note, a large office feels empty and lacks atmosphere, so it’s a tricky balance to find.
A good way around this is to keep the working area to one part of the office, and use the rest for meeting spaces or social hubs. This also lets you account for growth, expanding into the rest of the space as you need to.
Think About What Makes Working From Home So Appealing
Trying to encourage employees to return to the office can be difficult when they’ve gotten so used to being at home. The perceived benefits include being around their creature comforts, such as having their own furniture, and avoiding the daily commute. They might also find that a quieter working environment allows them to be more productive compared to a noisy office.
People can also make better use of their time in the morning, or during lunch breaks, to do tasks they couldn’t while at the office. Find out more about why some people are more productive working from home.
The reasons some people prefer remote working will vary from person to person, so take the time to understand what your employees want and see if you can incorporate that into your open plan office ideas if you want them to spend more time in the workplace.
Open Plan Office Design That Works For Your Business
When it comes to choosing an open place office design for your business, you should think about how the office will be used, by who, and how you think your business might change or grow in the future.
With our team of local experts, Williams Sillitoe can help you find the right open plan office that lets you make the most of a hybrid workforce, so you won’t be sitting in an empty office or be short of space if everyone comes in. Contact our team today to find out how we can help you find the right property for your business in South Manchester and Cheshire.