Evolving conversation on open office

It’s interesting how business philosophies can evolve.

When I joined ICR 25 years ago, everyone had individual offices.  You rarely saw a closed door but each of us had our own space.

Our company culture has always been open and collaborative.

Hard truths about open office

When our last brokerage office move was made, it was decided to move to an open office concept.

Desk dividers provided the only separation for most of the salespeople. 

There was a belief that a more open concept, would provide greater collaboration.

While that may have been true, it also caused distraction.

At times it felt more like a call centre than a professional sales office. 

Even minor noises could result in lost focus.

So, a decision was made to install full height glass partitions for most of the group.

The new salespeople would stay in a bullpen layout for the early part of their career while learning the business.

While that worked better, it did not eliminate distractions when the office activity level is high.

It has at times, necessitated moving to a private client room for a phone call to provide the necessary quiet for an important call.

There are also times in our business where discretion is required.

When our clients need us to maintain confidentiality on a particular assignment and where privacy is required for processing of confidential contracts.

In those cases, it’s necessary to have separate offices for meetings and phone conversations.

Focussing on the bottom line with office design

Therefore, in our Saskatoon downtown brokerage office, where we have a few more staff within less space, we’ve decided to adjust our floor plan to provide for doors.

It won’t look like the office I started in 25 years ago with drywalled walls and solid doors. 

Rather, the open concept feel will be maintained for the most part, with glass walls and doors.

The doors won’t be used all the time, but they’ll be there to provide privacy when the need arises.

I’m curious how many office workers might be stating they want to work from home because they simply don’t want to return to an open office concept?

Posted by Barry Stuart


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