How to Make Your Open Office Work: 4 Tips

The open office concept is becoming a trendy option for all sorts of companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. It may be popular, but the open layout is not for everyone. For starters, office managers in Singapore are discovering that it is not a preferred design amongst employees because of privacy issues. Also, it doesn’t necessarily contribute to productivity or collaboration as it was previously perceived. Before you revamp your office management solutions or engage an office space planning services team to create an open office for your company, there are four things that you need to straighten out first.

1. Set clear rules and expectations 

If you’re an office manager in Singapore taking the lead to create an open office for your company, make sure to start the process with a set of clearly defined rules and expectations for your employees. If you don’t, employees may do as they please and possibly end up causing conflicts and resentment amongst teammates. 

Because an open office environment is not segmented by walls or partitions, it is easy to interrupt one another’s personal space and workflow if basic respect is not rendered to the people in close proximity.  As such, offering a set of conditions like noise limit, designated spaces for group meetings, or not eating at desks can prevent unpleasant exchanges amongst employees and promote great harmony in the workplace. 

2. Respect the need for privacy 

It was found that companies that switched to open offices experienced a 70% drop in face-to-face interactions while electronic communications increased. Perhaps the discomfort of feeling overly exposed in an open environment is enough to make employees put a halt to human interactions.  

This can be very unpleasant unless office managers in Singapore like you can redesign the workplace and office management solutions to strategically preserve employees’ privacy. For example, you can work with the office space planning services team to reorganise the seating arrangement in such a way that employees’ screens are not fully exposed or try adding more furniture to create private corners so that employees can feel at ease. On a more human level, try to advocate open office etiquette and regularly remind employees to show mutual respect to one another at all times. 

3. Pay attention to office cleanliness

An open office setup does not designate specific areas for specific people.  While it is great that everyone can share workspaces, it can also be a nightmare when dirt and trash pile up with no one wanting to take responsibility. This is where office managers need to stipulate guidelines for cleanliness

Employees should be tasked to maintain a clutter-free desk that is regularly wiped down. Restricting the consumption of food at workstations is also a great way to prevent unsightly food stains and smells from lingering in the office environment.

Because an open office has fewer barriers, it is prone to gathering bacteria and consequently increased health risks amongst employees. Don’t rely on employees to clean up these areas; the safest bet is to hire the help of a corporate office cleaning services team like Nimbus to provide regular cleaning and disinfecting to ensure the highest level of hygiene. 

4. Consider the needs of everyone

Working in an open environment requires a lot more effort to maintain peace and harmony. As an office manager in Singapore, you can help to foster more considerate behaviours amongst employees and highlight the dos and don’ts in an open office environment.  

Enforcing rules like wearing headphones if anyone wishes to listen to music or watch videos can cut down noise pollution in the workspace tremendously. Placing a restriction on strong scents can also help those with a sensitive nose to feel less triggered in the workplace. Importantly, always help employees understand office boundaries and advocate self-management so that others around them can function at their optimum without feeling interrupted. Perhaps a good quote to promote alongside the open office etiquette is, “Don't do unto others what you don't want done unto you.”

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