If you’re facing common challenges with the open office like everyone else, try this open office survival guide.

These days, open office plans are a common workplace feature. You’re likely more than a little familiar with an open office layout, because you’ve created one in your own workplace, or are planning to do so. At the very least, you’ve probably visited one.

Working in an open office space can create cross-pollination of teams, a casual work environment, and foster collaboration, especially with small but mighty start-ups. However, it can also mean the loss of privacy and quiet space when employees can’t shut the door. In fact, a study from CNBC notes that 58% of high-performance employees say they need more quiet work spaces. Your local space is a great opportunity to catch up with your customers or prospects. And we’ve got some great ideas on how to make that happen.

So what’s a facilities manager to do?

Without some basic ground rules and some space carved out for other activities where walls come in handy, you may not have buy-in from all employees. A workplace that doesn’t offer various type of meeting and break options can lead to unhappy, and unproductive employees. Facilities managers can make it easier for employees to co-exist peacefully in an open work place environment with these five tips. We’ve also included some suggested space solutions you can use right now.

1. Keep it on the down-low.

While it was perfectly acceptable when everyone had an office or a cubicle to confer face-to-face, quick in-person meetings can become a distraction to others.

Open Office Survival Tip: Put in place an in-office message system like Slack for quick questions rather than having folks yelling across the room or assuming a co-worker isn’t busy and can talk. For private meetings, create a touchdown space away from individual desks for meetings out loud that won’t bother anyone.


2. Be respectful.

Remember, just because someone in the office loves to blast Classic Rock tunes doesn’t mean everyone wants to sing along.

Open Office Survival Tip: Provide noise-canceling headphones to your employees so staff can listen to their favorite bands or podcasts without irritating their co-workers. Your employees will thank you.


3. Put a lid on smelly food.

You’re eating what?! Make sure employees aren’t torturing everyone else with overly odoriferous meals.

Open Office Survival Tip: Encourage employees to take the time to step into a common area or break room to munch their lunch. In warmer months, if there’s some outdoor space on a back patio or roof, add some tables and chairs for dining al fresco or for casual meetings.


4. Try not to spread out.

Help keep staff clutter to a minimum. Remember, in an open space, everyone is now able to view their desk mate’s mess. And one person’s Troll doll collection is another one’s nightmare.

Open Office Survival Tip: Invest in some brightly colored storage containers for employees to store their stuff, like extra cords, books, and chargers. For larger items, Corovan can help with commercial storage options.


5. Be prepared to be flexible.

Not all open spaces are alike, and the more open, the more urgent the need for touch-down spaces, conference rooms, and break rooms.

Open Office Survival Tip: Give employees good choices. For those who need a to duck into a private room for a meeting, grab a break, or collaborate with co-workers, having those spaces in addition to the open space will maximize employee productivity and happiness.

Does your open office layout work for everyone?

The right workplace change partner can help create a balance between open and private spaces so that your employees survive and thrive in the office.

Yes, I’m ready >>