Written by By Marie Henry, Editorial Intern
Marie Henry is the editorial intern for The Biz. Email her at [email protected]
Many companies are moving toward “open office environments” to encourage creativity and collaboration. This style of work can lead to clutter — a nasty reminder that your space is not fitting all your needs. Your workspace should provide you with a space to think, gather and collaborate, and once your workspace is set up for that, you’re free to enjoy your place — to take a stroll, stretch or sit back and relax.
Although you’re looking to lighten up, you’re not ready to come out of hiding. Instead, here are five ways to make working in an open office more inviting.
Give yourself an office of your own.
Provide new and emerging employees, as well as your fellow designers and non-technical employees, with a privately held office. True, this might be a request to a new coworker, and the coworker may not be thrilled. However, for the role you fill, such as product manager, this will likely be a healthy boost in morale and recognition. The more respectful you are to your company, the more likely that you will be perceived as valued by your co-workers. By giving yourself an office for yourself, you’ll open up communication between co-workers. The way you find your space will inspire a sense of community. If you’re the lonesome worker and don’t want people to notice, you can access the open floor plan directly through an adjacent room.
Show off your brainpower.
One of the benefits of working in an open office is that you’re surrounded by dozens of other creative thinkers. Support that force and create an environment for them to come together. For one weekend, help your co-workers on projects such as building a website. Dressed in “uniforms” or matching tie and shirt, you’ll be a beacon for work well done. While most of us know that brainstorming times are best with good food, coffee and literature, offer your coworkers a free lunch so they can relax, focus or even work with you at lunchtime.
Let nature flow.
An open office building carries a host of different environmental issues. Air purifiers, energy-efficient lighting and lots of humidity may make working in an open space healthier, but that doesn’t mean your job will be any easier. Can you bring the outdoors to the office? Here are a few things you can do to play off the natural elements. By bringing food to the office in a box, or a portable sink and water tank, you’ll have a nice way to shower from time to time. Of course, a potted plant in the corner would be even more effective. Keep it colorful, pretty and bright. Plus, the natural elements will distract you from other things occupying your attention. Who wouldn’t want to spend their work time wandering around a large open space with bright, colorful foliage?
Surround yourself with “wanderlust.”
This may not be something you can control, but you can create environments that will make you feel more content. Turn off the computers. Unplug your phone and leave your desk phone turned off. Listen to music to feel some sunlight or create a quiet environment with rolling hillside views and views. Even a scent of lavender or rosemary can give you the feeling of a more zen environment. Indulge in a more literary or TV channel and develop your “doorstop” or “wanderlust” by the end of the day. Soothe yourself with some nature sounds or the beat of a cool breeze.
Add a little square footage.
Make your office feel more like your apartment. It may sound crazy, but add some office windows. This will increase views and give you a chance to soak in the outside. Attach a large glass door to the front of your office and add an umbrella in the cooler months. Let the noise and chaos of your colleagues fill the window frames. Instead of an open office, try an open-door policy in which everyone welcomes input and inputs. If there is a problem that is a distraction from work, give your coworkers a call. Some co-workers may find their co-workers’ voices annoying, but the true problem could be psychological. Be sure to also add ample furniture to give you the room you need to work or just relax. This way, you’ll be less tempted to take just a couple of minutes for yourself at lunch or while having a cigarette break.