We sat down with VTLO consultant Barbara Rosenbaum Singer, who has extensive expertise in change management, media relations, and employee engagement, to discuss the topic of open workspaces. Barbara has worked in all types of organizations—nonprofit, corporate, agency, and partnerships—and both internally and externally.
Q: What are the benefits of changing from a traditional workspace to an open workspace?
A: Open workspaces can subliminally convey a great deal about an organization’s culture. There’s a sense of egalitarianism in the lack of corner offices, which sends a clear message to employees that “we’re all in this together.” Plus, the environment can help accelerate the workflow and communication among colleagues across functional areas. The results can be pretty incredible.
Q: What are some of the concerns that employees have about open workspaces? And how can an organization address them?
A: Everyone has a different work style and optimal work environment. Some people may be concerned that the lack of walls will result in distractions from others working nearby or that the open concept will result in a loss of privacy. The best way to get everyone on board is to provide a forum for open discussion about the benefits and challenges of open workspace, and address issues that hinder productivity.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you would offer to a business leader who wants to move to an open workspace?
A: Give your employees the tools they need to succeed in the new work environment. For instance, create quiet spaces where employees can go if they need privacy; ensure that wireless connectivity is available throughout the office; and establish protocol that helps people understand how to work cooperatively in open space.
Q: Moving employees can be difficult, especially when the type of workspace is changing. Do you have any suggestions on how to ease the transition?
A: Yes, I do. In fact, a short video I recorded (shown below) offers the three most important components to consider when communicating about a move or change to a new work environment.