5 Ways To Maximize Efficiency In An Open Office Environment

How to maximize efficiency and productivity in an open office plan environment

A trend I am seeing more and more of is the open office concept. It seems that the days of the bullpen are fading and being replaced by sleek desks and lower or non-existent cubicle walls.

Granted, this is a great advancement for this generation of millennials - being included in and collaborating on something meaningful is the heartbeat of this generation. However, as more and more offices move towards this model, it’s important not to sacrifice productivity for the sake of collaboration and community life.

As an introvert who works in an open office concept, here are my suggestions on maximizing efficiency and collaboration – because it is possible.

1. Get organized every day.

Things get messy in an open office. It can be loud and distracting. The very best way to combat this is to get organized. This looks a little different for everyone, but a good place to start is writing lists. At the very least, write down all of the goals you want or need to accomplish that day, and keep track of your progess as you work.

There is almost always some kind of conversation going on in an open office enviornment. If you aren’t well organized, a conversation could steal your attention and cause you to forget everything you were trying to accomplish that day.

2. Embrace collaboration.

Collaboration alone makes an open office concept worth having. Embrace it. Tweet: Collaboration alone makes an open office concept worth having. Embrace it.
http://vsearch.ws/1QPiMU0 via @VanderbloemenSG

I can’t tell you how much time I save when my coworkers and I talk about projects by paring them down into more logical, efficient ideas. Previously, I would have thought that this kind of discussion was a waste of time, but now I see that it saves me time and ultimately is much more efficient. Embrace the noise and the conversation, and you’ll discover that you actually get more done once you let go of the desire to complete a project on your own.

Here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, we've created a space in which input and questions are always encouraged, and as a result, we run as a unified, efficient team. Our offices are constantly full of collaboration and conversations about how to solve problems or serve our clients excellently - so much so, that when I started working here I realized I would miss important details of projects if I wore headphones all the time. I was almost instantly engulfed into the atmosphere of collaboration. It has become an invaluable attribute of my work here.

3. Advocate for your work.

All this talk about collaboration is great, but what about those days you just have to drill down, focus, and complete a large project? Easy. Don’t be afraid to separate yourself occasionally. Whether that looks like finding a quiet corner to work or borrowing a desk from a coworker on vacation, do what will help you be most efficient. At Vanderbloemen, an employee wearing headphones is the same thing as them putting a large DO NOT DISTURB sign on their desk. Find what works for you, and communicate that to those who work in your area.

4. Be aware and be respectful.

Good teams are full of people from every side of the personality spectrum.You will likely find yourself sitting in close proximity someone whose personality and style of work is completely contrary to your own. This will undoubtedly create some tension unless you’re all aware and respectful of your differences.

Be considerate when engaging in loud conversations while those around you are on the phone. Be more available for discussion when you’re usually accustomed to working alone or in silence. Be aware that although you may like playing music loudly throughout the office, it is distracting for others. It will require some give-and-take on everyone’s part. Some days it could be frustrating and you might wish for the old cubicle farm, but ultimately, it is worth the extra effort and you’ll gain infinitely more than you lost.

5. Have fun!

The best suggestion I can offer you when working in an open office environment is to have fun and not fight it. When you have large groups of people all working in the same space, there is almost always something fun going on. Join in! You’d be surprised at how refreshing it is to take a few moments out of your day for fun, and fighting your environment will only make you bitter, which ultimately leads down a bad road for your job satisfaction and staff culture. The old adage, "If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em" definitely applies here – you won’t be able to fight an open office environment, so join it fully and you’ll enjoy your work even more than you already do. After you’ve taken a few moments to have fun with your team, you’ll get back to your desk and finish your day or project even more strongly.

Has your office embraced the trend of open office concepts? What are some of your tips for staying focused and efficient in an open office environment?

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