Is It Time to Shake Up Your Floor Plan?

Staff in a slump? Has your company shifted focus or embarked on a significant market push? It may be time to rotate employees around your floor plan.

In a workplace, it’s easy for people to fall into patterns—whether that’s taking the same route to their desk every morning, using the same conference rooms, or talking only to the same people. These habits create silos, breed stagnation, and erode a company’s camaraderie. By periodically moving departments and teams around, you can rejuvenate your workforce. You open employees up to new ideas, collaboration and esprit de corps with their colleagues—with minimal expense. Here’s what other successful California businesses do:

Make unexpected neighbors.

Put teams next to those they normally never work with. Before you do so, though, some savvy matchmaking may be required. Some teams are naturally more extroverted—sales, for instance. Others might be more focused on their screens, like UX coders. Making sure neighbors have similar team cultures will pay off in more harmonious interactions.

Be equitable with the desirable placements.

Employees are quick to note perceived slights and preferential treatment. So don’t just give the revenue-generating superstar departments or employees the location with the gorgeous skyline view. Give them some time in the corner by the loading dock, too.

Create a buzzing workplace full of engaged employees.

Even if you’re staying put, we’ll help you set-up your location right. Learn more »

Reposition executives.

Whether executives have traditional offices or sit in a bullpen like everyone else, putting them near different teams can benefit everyone. The execs get a better understanding of the business and different perspectives outside the C-suite so they can connect with more employees and understand their day-to-day reality. Plus, more employees get face time with leadership, eliminating “us vs. them” perceptions or feelings that they’re just a number.

Build “neighborhood squares.”

Certainly, some teams still need to work together or collaborate frequently. Creating clusters of couches or open touchdown areas can give these collaborators a comfortable place to gather. They also provide welcoming places where mobile or remote teams can come “home”.

Encourage neighbors to break the ice.

Facilitating potlucks, after-hours get-togethers or catered lunches between neighbors can get them talking more easily and quickly, especially in larger companies where people tend naturally to stick to their own departments. Some companies hold decorating contests during the holidays. Dividing teams by seating arrangements, instead of departments can also be a good way to build collaboration among different neighbors.  


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Smaller offices: Keep the desks in place.

In a smaller company, floor space is even more precious, and a move or revision to the floor plan can be especially disruptive or expensive. Yet companies with a few people or a few dozen can redeploy personnel in creative ways without significant downtime.

Move the people instead.

You may need to bring in a workplace “moves, adds & changes expert” to add important ergonomic installations, such as keyboard trays and monitor arms, to desks. This can help reduce the possibility of medical-related absences and related insurance or productivity losses.

Group people by job function.

Put all the admins, salespeople and marketing managers together, even if they work on different lines of business. Grouping related roles helps break down silos and allows better cross-sharing of ideas, best practices, and common pain points.

End assigned seating.

Let people sit where they want. This allows people working on a project to sit together. If the office is small enough, people already have plenty of opportunity to interact with teammates easily.
Before any significant change to your floor plan, of course, it’s important to carefully assess your company and its needs versus the impact on your population. Moves can be disruptive—not just the moving process itself but the time it takes for employees to acclimate to new routines, locations, and neighboring co-workers. The goal of a rotating floor plan is to open up new avenues of communication across the company while still allowing people to work productively without needless distractions. As always, no one solution or trend fits every company so— be sure to know your options and any potential disadvantages.