Guest Blog | How can an open-plan office stimulate employee interaction?

Open-plan offices are almost a commonplace of modern working, complemented by slick systems and minimal interiors, revitalising traditional working and reforming the way employees interact. By structuring the placement of workspaces in a visually uniform manner, taking into consideration the ergonomics, employers can boost staff productivity and enhance the way they work.

Through the strategic organisation of equipment, machinery and resource stations, you can increase team accessibility and create a communal hub. In addition to generating cost savings, reducing maintenance commitments and streamlining administrative operations, this can inject colour during the working day and encourage employees to join forces.

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Encourage collaborative thinking

An open-plan office can unite staff members under one business by making it easier to share project visions, financial targets and update each other on team performance. Witnessing the collective efforts behind the business can strengthen the bond of colleagues and increase loyalty to the brand. Joining staff that would otherwise be segregated by cubicles, different levels and separate rooms can result in unexpected collaborations that can strengthen the brand. Removing physical barriers between employees can encourage collaborative ideas and joint-up thinking.

By reducing travel time around the office, more meaningful and casual conversations can be had without the formality of booking meeting rooms and management suites. From pitching valuable suggestions to conversations, to instantly sourcing answers to queries, an open plan office can help colleagues form a tighter bond and trigger collaborative thinking.

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Impact on job retention rates

By sparking spontaneous conversations, sharing thought-provoking stories and interacting with a variety of colleagues from different walks of life, employees can improve the quality of their experiences at work. If their working day is surrounded by different faces, other than that of their team, this can keep working life interesting and encourage new ideas. By uniting staff in an office setting, staff can find other colleagues they are more likely to relate to, in addition to the team they are allocated to.

Forming connections with other people at work can arguably provide a stronger reason for staff to stay, other than the job and brand itself. If staff are content in their workplace environment, this can have a direct impact on job retention rates. Better conditions at work are likely to increase likeability for the job, keeping staff satisfied and engaged.

As working from home restrictions swept the nation because of the coronavirus pandemic, employers are likely considering innovative ways to revive the workplace. An open-plan office may provide the answer to combining accessibility and the casual working environment embraced in the home or at a remote working venue.

After the sudden change in working conditions triggered by the pandemic left employers with no choice but to enable flexible working, those keen to reopen offices can strike an ideal middle cord by modernising the existing office space. An open office plan not only makes for an aesthetically pleasing interior but removes physical barriers between employees that would otherwise restrict interactions.

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Keith Tully is a partner at Real Business Rescue and a company restructuring and business turnaround specialist with over 30 years’ experience. He regularly assists company directors in financial distress and supports businesses hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.