office

The Cons of an Open Office Floor Plan

Despite all the pros, open office floor plans aren’t for everyone. Though trends suggest it’s good for Millennials, it doesn’t even work for that entire age group (which covers people born in the 1980s to the 1990s). Consider carefully before you switch your office over! If you are set on an open office plan, we also provide some suggestions to make the transition smooth and your office feel happy.

Lack of Privacy

The first thing you’ll lose in an open office is privacy. While this sounds like a great thing for supervisors who want to make sure that their team members are staying on task, it may diminish effectiveness for some. There are employees who thrive with some privacy who, if their walls are removed, will falter and become far less productive.

Open floor plans also make some tasks more difficult. For example, if your business requires everyone to make plenty of phone calls through the day, such as in customer service or sales. Phone calls–especially if they’re taking place on top of each other–might be difficult to conduct in a professional manner.

Private spaces for business calls in such an environment then become essential. Make sure that if your business requires work like this that you have adequate space to allow everyone to work. Also, try to provide private booths or rooms for phone calls.

Distractions

While having an open floor plan reduces the likelihood that employees will waste time, it also actually increases distractions. The chances go up for employees to get distracted talking to one another. And this can be difficult to enforce, especially since one of the goals of an open-plan office is to increase communication and cooperation.

It’s also possible that even a dedicated employee could lose focus. Phone calls and other conversations can divide attention whether or not a person is participating. Annoying little habits become more prominent, which might cause tension or distraction.

To stay productive, your employees will have to get creative to shut out distractions. Encourage consideration of others in your office, and enforce your standards. Try holding good communication training to help your employees practice peaceful resolution to issues that might be distracting them.

Stress

With the decrease in productivity and increase in distractions, your employees will have more stress on their plates. Accomplishing projects may be more difficult, especially within tight deadlines. As with the above example, it might cause problems with placing calls or meeting with clients in a space with little privacy.

Plus, there are always those employees who will do better with privacy–both from their peers and from their superiors. These aren’t the ones who goof off; they’re just the ones who do better knuckling down and getting work done. If these are your best team members, knocking down the walls could make working harder for them.

If this situation might affect your work space, but you want an open floor plan, consider a hybrid office. You might combine an open plan with separate spaces–not quite cubicles, but something that feels a little more enclosed. Or, give those employees who require a separate space a seating arrangement that better suits their ability to get work done.

Contagion

Flu and cold season can be hard enough to fight as it is! However, open offices make it harder. Without walls to keep germs from coughs and sneezes in, bacteria and viruses spread fast. And while your employees may practice good etiquette by coughing into elbows or tissues, it’s still not as effective as a separate space that can be sanitized.

Fight contagion in your office by providing more sick days and encouraging team members with colds to work from home to keep sickness from spreading. Keep the area clean as well, and provide tissues and hand sanitizer.

 

An open floor plan, despite its cons, might still be worth the effort! Are you willing to give this change of scene a try in your business?

Tips for Happier Holiday Office Gift Giving

While many of us love getting gifts, that doesn’t always go for buying presents for coworkers. This time of year can be stressful enough. Then we have to choose something at the right price while being just thoughtful enough to make the gift matter. Here are our tips for buying the right gifts for the people you work with without adding extra stress!

Learn the Rules

There are always unwritten rules of gift-giving and service. Find out by talking to your coworkers what people generally get one another. This helps you get an idea of what people liked and didn’t like, as well as the price range. This keeps you from the awkwardness of over- or under-spending.

Get Gifts For Your Subordinates, Not Your Boss

This is a great time of year to show your employees how much you appreciate them. Especially if your business is extra-busy and extra-stressful during the holidays, they need that extra touch. You don’t have to be extravagant or spend a lot of money, but do make sure no one gets overlooked. Your holiday behavior and gifts will set the tone for everyone else!

However, avoid getting gifts for your boss. One, this is already a difficult task. Two, a gift to your boss will look suspicious to them and to your coworkers, who’ll wonder if you are sucking up to them. This could be uncomfortable for the recipient at best. At worst, it might be embarrassing or inappropriate.

There are exceptions: if you really want to get your boss something, pool your resources to get him or her a department-wide gift.

Be Fair

Spend about the same amount on everyone. Overspending can be an expensive or suspicion-raising trap that makes it appear as if you’re sucking up to a superior or favoring a subordinate. Obvious underspending, too, makes you look like a Scrooge or like you don’t like one of your coworkers.

Especially if you’re a manager, avoid showing favoritism. Make sure you’re not leaving people out who might feel bad. For example, you should get all of your employees or immediate coworkers a gift, not just some of them or all but one. This should obviously go without saying. If money is a concern, you can get them cards with a nice note or other simple, inexpensive ways to show that you appreciate them.

Giving only one or a few coworkers a gift? Don’t highlight that fact. Use a gift exchange outside the office or avoid distributing them in front of those who aren’t getting any gifts.

Be Thoughtful (But Not Too Personal)

Pay attention to the things your coworker likes. You might get them some sports paraphernalia, something they like in pop culture, or a useful item they’ve been wishing they had at their desk.

When looking at a gift, ask if this is something you would like to get. If not, and not just because you don’t like that particular sports team, you probably should put it back. This applies to gifts that might inadvertently cause an office faux pas, like a desk organizer for a messy employee or body spray for a coworker who you think needs it. Conversely, you can get someone something too nice, which goes back to being fair to your other coworkers.

 

Getting office gifts doesn’t have to be too difficult to bear! How has your office handled Christmas gifts in the past? What have you learned from office gift exchanges? We’d love to hear from you.