Office layout can have a big influence throughout your firm – from who employees interact with to job satisfaction. This article explores how office layout can influence your firm.
Who interacts with who
One of the primary things that your office layout influences is who interacts with who. You will see people who you happen to be sat next to far more than those located in a different part of the building – and will likely discuss more issues with these physically located individuals than people located in a different area.
These interactions likely go as far as friendships – you are much more likely to get along and trust those individuals that you interact with on a daily basis than individuals located on a different side of the office or floor.
The office layout of course extends just beyond being physically sat together – if you have a layout that encourages individuals running int” one another (such as corridors that cross or communal spaces), you may be able to encourage interactions between people that are not physically located in a similar vicinity of the office.
The possibility of new ideas from chance interactions
Beyond influencing who interacts with who, the office layout can shape creativity and idea formation. Chance interactions – possible between colleagues with different experiences – can be a source of inter-departmental trust and cooperation. This may influence whether new ideas or improvements surface. An office environment that encourages chance-interactions may allow new ideas and collaboration to foster.
The layout of the office will also play a role in office productivity. While there are clear benefits of having easy conversations between employees, this can be a big distraction from work – quickly eating into office productivity. If you are someone whose role involves interacting with many others, the ability for colleagues to come round whenever to an open cubical may make it very difficult to achieve anything beyond these constant meetings (and those in the vicinity may find their productivity impacted by constant conversations).
Similarly, an open-plan office layout may reduce time spent on non-work activities (such as checking social media), which can occur when employees have their own office and don’t think that they are being watched. The flip side is that the feeling of being watched is not always a good thing for office morale.
It is also important not to discount the impact that the office layout can have on individual job satisfaction. Having an office with windows can make you feel more important than a cubical or a communal space. Change can be particularly disruptive if someone is used to having the perks of a private office, being moved (potentially in an office relocation) to an open plan office can feel like a big demotion in status. Whether people like or dislike their office environment can have an impact on job satisfaction and overall morale.