Written by Aaron Schaffer
Open office spaces offer many benefits, from facilitating communication between coworkers to immersing every member of the team in the office culture equally.
That doesn’t mean every open office plan is ideal, though. You need to keep certain key factors in mind when planning the layout for yours. For example, a coworking space in New York will likely have different constraints than one in St. Louis. Another part of that process involves accounting for the different personality types that may exist within the office.
Extroverts are simply people who get energized from being around others. Introverts need some alone time to recharge after being around others. Thus, it’s important to design an open office plan that caters to both personality types. The following tips will help you strike the right balance.
An open office should be divided into different sections based on the various needs of the employees using the space. Some areas will undoubtedly be somewhat noisy, where large teams can collaborate together. This is one of the key perks of an open office. It makes it easier for groups of people to work together without the need to reserve a conference room in advance.
However, that type of environment can be distracting to an introvert. They need the opportunity to work in a quiet area where they can focus on their own tasks. That’s why an open office plan should include separate zones for different kinds of interactions. There need to be designated quiet areas that offer some degree of privacy for those that prefer to work individually.
Private spaces are only valuable if they are conveniently located. A worker may need to be somewhat close to their team to answer the occasional question or help with the occasional task. That can make it hard to justify walking all the way across the office to work in a quieter section.
Quiet spaces should still be near enough to other areas of the office to make them worth using. Experts recommend incorporating sound-absorbing materials into the design so you can place quiet zones adjacent to louder sections without sacrificing the benefits each offers.
Avoid Common Mistakes
In some open offices, you may see that many of the larger desks are blocked off with partitions to create the illusion of privacy. It’s easy to understand why you may think this is a smart idea when planning your design.
However, it can have drawbacks. With a partition in place, a worker can’t gauge the mood or state of those around them. They may be too willing to make a lot of noise on a phone call. If they can’t see that a coworker is focusing intently on a task, they may also be more likely to interrupt them. You can actually offer a more extrovert and introvert-friendly design by removing the partitions in key areas.
Of course, it’s always important to solicit feedback from the people using your open office space. They may have suggestions you can apply to further improve the design. In the meantime, however, these tips will help you plan an office that’s comfortable for everyone.