A workplace is more than just a collection of walls, chairs, desks, and employees. It’s an environment where several individuals must cooperate and focus on a number of tasks each day. The way your workplace is organized in large part determines how your staff members feel, how hard they work, and how they get along with one another. In other words, your office should be designed to improve and optimize your company’s unique workplace culture.
We’re all familiar with the proverbial office with sequestered cubicles and low ceilings. And while many work environments have inherited and maintained this design, plenty of modern offices have done away with the barriers and opened right up. Are these open floorplans better than cubes, though? Let’s run down the pros and cons of both set-ups and see if we can determine a winner.
Should You Get an Open Floor Plan or Cubicles?
Our modern sensibilities might shudder at the thought of cubicles. But that drab image in our heads is usually not representative of the real thing. Cubicles can range in size, shape, and design.
- Personal(ized) Space: Employees who work in an office spend a lot of their time there. Many of them enjoy having some space where they can put up photographs, artwork, and knick-knacks to make it their own. On top of that, most people benefit from some personal space where they can get away from others every now and then.
- Limits Distractions: Cubicles are often a great way to reduce performance management issues caused by visual or auditory distractions. Their walls keep such unwanted stimuli out of sight and mind. This is especially important for jobs and roles that require serious focus or privacy.
- Detrimental to Teamwork: Cubicles might not be the best option for a team-driven business. These partitions keep everyone in their own little bubble for much of the day. Leaders may struggle with team management as a result.
- Less Accountability: These enclosures may also tempt some employees to shirk some of their responsibilities. In this regard, cubicles might not make for the most effective performance management, even if they also encourage focus at times. It’s a double-edged sword.
This type of office configuration is becoming more and more popular. On paper, open floorplans sound great. However, they’re not without their flaws as well.
- Encourages Communication: The fewer barriers your office has, the more open it is to collaboration and communication. Staff members will get to know the faces and names of everyone else in the office. These open floorplans make it difficult to hide from your team.
- Increases Accountability: An open floorplan makes it so every employee has an idea of what their team members are up to. In this way, your team will stay productive and accountable for their work.
- Less Privacy: All of that open space comes at the cost of privacy, of course. Without the comfort of a cubicle, employees have a harder time making their workplace their own. They also lack options when they want to take a break from socializing.
- Increases Distractions: The more you can see and hear, the harder it may be to focus on the task at hand. Some employees can manage their attention better than others, but an open floorplan opens the door for all kinds of distractions. So, this configuration might not always be suited for proper employee productivity management.
Open Floor vs. Cubes? Which is the Better Option?
In a way, the pros and cons are flipped for each set-up. That means the “winner” depends on your specific needs, roles, and company culture. If your company relies heavily on teamwork, collaboration, and free expression, open floorplans are often ideal. If your business, on the other hand, requires more individual focus and privacy, cubicles might be the way to go. Some offices might even incorporate elements of both configurations. Do what’s best for your purposes.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.
The notion of a workplace is undergoing a major transformation. The internet allows people to share ideas, files, and projects across the world with lightning speed. For industries that primarily deal with information and communication (as opposed to manufacturing), the need for dedicated commercial space is becoming antiquated. This is especially true for businesses that wish to hire the best candidates across the globe and don’t want to be limited by their region’s pool of potential hires.
Forbes projects that half of the U.S. working population will soon work from home or at least away from a central office on a regular basis. Many workers and companies have already made this leap. Of course, many of these businesses still maintain some office space for a number of reasons, such as maintaining a workplace culture. But is remote work right for your team and company? If you’re on the fence about this future, here are some factors to consider.
How to Tell Remote Work Is Right for Your Team
What is the Nature of Your Work?
Not every job is an ideal fit for remote work. If your company’s day-to-day operations include plenty of meetings and hands-on demonstrations, you probably want your team to be physically present most days. The same goes for industries that require some level of physical labor. Working remotely means your body is essentially unavailable.
If, however, your business mainly deals with data, information, and simple communication tasks, remote work might make a lot of sense. In these cases, your employees’ brains (and fingertips) are the most valuable assets. It doesn’t matter where they’re working, so long as they have a functional internet connection.
Establishing Trust With Your Team
Even if remote work makes sense on a practical level, you must also consider the potential pitfalls of fragmenting your team across physical space. One of the primary advantages of maintaining office space is its usefulness in the realm of team management. Having your team in one place at the same time makes it easier for everyone to communicate, establish trust, and hold each other accountable.
This isn’t to say that communication or trust-building is impossible without a shared space. Video conferences, text-based chat groups, and occasional in-house meetings can be enough to keep your team on track. Still, if you’re going to offer remote work, you need to establish some kind of performance management system so that all employees are accountable for their contributions. Working away from an office is a big responsibility and everyone on your team must be on the same page.
Keeping the lights on isn’t cheap. Depending on the size and scope of your operation, owning or renting commercial property might hurt your bottom line. First, take account of how many employees you have. Then, consider how long, on average, it takes for your workers to get to the office each day. You might start to realize that your employees are burning a lot of gas just to show up, and that you have more space than you need.
On the other hand, your office space might be integral to your company culture, both internally and externally. For instance, if you’re in a prime location, regularly conduct meetings with clients and customers, and utilize every part of your space, your property might be a fixture of your business model. Whatever the case you must consider these costs and benefits, even if it means offering remote work to a portion of your staff, or moving to a smaller location.
Stress, Productivity, and Culture
For many people, working remotely can significantly reduce stress and actually increase productivity. Commuting to an office, socializing with others, and feeling confined in a cubicle each day can take a toll on many workers’ mental and physical health. There are plenty of examples of how managers can reduce stress in the workplace, but offering remote work, if possible, might be one of the best.
When team members can work from their favorite location, skip the morning rush hour, and feel in control of their work environment, they’re often more inclined to get work done. There’s always a risk here in terms of employee work management, of course. But as long as team leaders establish clear guidelines for how team members should approach remote work and what’s expected of them, this opportunity can make for a more positive, productive company culture in the long run.
Remote work might not be right for every company just yet, but it seems to be the way of the future. Keeping the above considerations in mind, you might realize that remote work can lead your team in a positive direction.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.
Communication is one of the most powerful aspects of an organization. Strong communication keeps staff members accountable and helps maintain clarity. Poor communication can muddy the waters on every level. Without good leadership communication skills, your team might not know what to do next, or why they should do it. And if they fail to give you honest feedback, you might not even know that your message is unclear. This is a negative feedback loop that stifles productivity.
To get ahead of this potential confusion, it’s important to know some of the warning signs that suggest a disconnect in understanding. Here we’ll take a look at some of these signs and outline a few ways to course correct.
How to Tell Your Team Isn’t Getting Your Message
Lack of Engagement
We’ve all been told that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Still, most of us don’t like being the first or only one to ask for clarification on something. If a team member isn’t grasping a message or a concept, they might hold still and wait for someone else to do it instead. The problem here is that this sometimes results in no one asking common questions at all. The leader in charge of team management is then unaware of the confusion that several team members might be feeling.
If your team isn’t super responsive or seems hesitant to ask questions, take this as a sign that something is unclear. To remedy this disengagement, try asking specific team members what they think the goal or task is about. If they can’t do this, they’ll most likely ask for further instruction rather than pretend to know the answer.
On the opposite end of this spectrum, you may receive too many questions, some of which echo questions you’ve already answered. This is a big red flag for team culture, too, as it suggests that team members aren’t listening well to each other and that they’re having a hard time grasping your message.
Repeated questions may derive from a flaw in your communication, however. Perhaps similar questions keep popping up because your answers lack clarity. Take these repetitive questions as a sign that you need to step back and explain yourself more clearly.
Once a project is in motion, there are a number of signs that indicate team members aren’t fully clear on the task at hand. The most glaring of these is when staff members assigned distinct tasks end up overlapping. For instance, one team member may be in charge of taking research notes while another is tasked with reaching out to contacts. If either person ends up doing something that’s in the others’ jurisdiction, there is probably need for better communication and performance management.
If you notice this happening, go back to the drawing board and reassign clearly distinguished tasks to your team members. Make sure everyone is clear on what they should be doing, how to report on it, etc.
Goals Aren’t Being Met and Productivity is Suffering
This final warning sign stems from the previous one. When team members fail to do their job or accidentally do someone else’s, productivity suffers. Failing to meet goals and deadlines can occur for a number of reasons, but it’s most commonly from miscommunication and lack of understanding. People struggle to achieve goals if they’re not sure what those goals are, or why they matter. One of the most important leadership qualities is knowing how to set and frame goals so that every team member can get on board.
Knowing how to manage communication in teams is easier said than done. For one thing, every team is different, and within each team are unique individuals with various strengths and weaknesses. It takes time to learn the subtle cues of each team member and recognize when your team is veering off course. Leadership Resources provides tools for leadership development that can help better equip you to handle these situations and get your team back on track. For instance, our team includes certified implementers of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)®, a system which promotes clarity and cohesion in organizations.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.Read More