More and more we’re seeing the modern workplace make the shift from a traditional, individualized office space design to something more open-concept and collaborative. Take a moment to Google a few innovative or up-and-coming companies in the communication or technology spheres. It’s very likely that one or more of these companies will offer a virtual tour of their office space for potential candidates, using words like “fun”, “Innovative”, and “collaborative” to describe the working environment.
This shift is not something that has occurred purely based on esthetic preferences. It indicates an overall shift in the general perception on how workplaces should function and how employees should interact with each other. A lot of this has stemmed from the introduction of a new generation into the workforce – a socially-minded generation seeking innovation and collaboration. The Millennials.
This generation, which includes births from 1982-2000, brings a new set of perspectives and attitudes into the workforce – and also a number of challenges for the HR Professional. How do you create a successful employee engagement strategy when dealing with a diverse, multi-generational workforce with different needs? The answer to this question, and others, will be discussed more in depth in part two of this blog.
All in the name of collaboration?
In a recent survey entitled Workplace of the Future, an incredible 77 percent of respondents indicated that they are employing, or plan to employ, an open workspace with fewer (or no) enclosed offices. What has caused this sudden move to open workspaces? One of the leading factors behind this push is the idea that it encourages collaboration between co-workers and across departments within the organization.
However, as popular as this idea is, it is far from a “one size fits all” solution and there has definitely been a fair amount of debate on the topic in recent months. The next section of this blog will take a look some of the pros and cons to this type of office design and how it impacts employee engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
"It forces workers to talk to each other and triggers fruitful and surprising collaborations that wouldn't have happened with everyone hunkered down inside their own four walls.”
So, by this point, you’re probably quite convinced that open offices are the way to go. I mean, who wouldn’t want a more collaborative, innovative, and creative working environment? Especially with the socially-minded multi-tasking Millennials making their way into the workforce. However, a growing body of evidence is suggesting that this philosophy is flawed. In fact, claims are being made that the open office actually undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve in the first place (Source: The New Yorker). Here are some of the cons of having this office space arrangement:
“Not only is the focus mode not functioning optimally in most office environments, we found statistical evidence that the effectiveness of collaboration, learning, and socializing suffers if the ability to focus is diminished.” (Source: Daily Mail)
Despite the number of statistically-backed cons to this type of office arrangement, in the end it really comes down to the individual type of work your company is doing and the optimal workplace design needed to get that work done most effectively. In most cases, fully open workspaces do not recognize different working styles among their employees. A recent article from Forbes suggests that the solution to this is some kind of hybrid between collaboration and privacy: “There’s a time when you need to share information and collaborate, and there’s a time when you need to go away and do some deep thinking.” Workers need an environment that is conducive to both of these needs. An optimal workspace would still provide workers with an opportunity to focus on collaboration through an open design, but also balance that openness with spaces that help workers to focus (Source: Smart Planet).
Do you work in an open-concept office space? We want to hear from you! What has your experience been working in that type of office environment? Do you find the space conducive to collaboration and innovation, or is it more of a distraction? Post your ideas in the comments section below.
Clear Path Employer Services is an HR consulting firm based in Cambridge that specializes in disability management. Come to us with all of your HR needs: Employee terminations, hiring and creating employment contracts, performance management issues, establishing employee policies, and complying with relevant HR legislation. Contact us today!
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Here at Clear Path Employer Services, we place a strong emphasis on listening to our customers. Although we take steps to welcome and encourage this feedback on a daily basis, we have recently introduced an annual client feedback survey as a more efficient way to collect this data. The purpose of this survey is to create an open door for our clients to tell us how we are doing, what we are doing well, and what we can do better. Our aim is to translate this feedback into tangible, actionable goals focused on improving our overall service.
We would like to thank those of you who took the time to respond to our survey this year. It is very important to all of us here at Clear Path that we are exceeding the expectations of our clients in the quality of service we provide, the value of our recommendations, and our overall client experience. If you did not get a chance to participate in the survey this time around, we would still like to hear from you! Feel free to connect with your primary consultant or Anna directly to tell us about your experience, including any times that we may not have gotten it quite right. Thank you for the opportunity to make it right for you!
As we embark on our journey towards our 11th year in business, the results of our most recent client survey are more important than ever. We want to ensure that we are continuing to serve our clients in a way that provides the most value to them and ultimately fulfills our vision of providing "Personal Service, Practical Expertise."
What were some of the results?
In addition to these results, the survey also provided us with client testimonials. These testimonials provide us with valuable insight into the minds of our clients that go beyond a simple "yes" or "no" answer.
"Your professionals are always available for questions and to help when a situation just "comes up" without warning. I am never made to feel as though its about how much is this going to cost, instead your professionals make me feel like "how much" can we help you!”
“Clear Path always goes above and beyond. I work with Margaret and Michelle and I love working with both of them. They always so much help and they've come to know the company and so well, their advice is always great!”
“Clear Path was always prompt in getting back to me. When I needed them they got back to me immediately. The issues I had were time sensitive - I had to deal with them right away. Clear Path did not leave me hanging and waiting.”
“A review of our NEER statement found an employee who was left open when in fact the claim had been closed. The review was free and it resulted in a rebate of $7000.00!”
All of the above testimonials and results are used to help us refine and improve our services, and understand exactly what our clients value and look for in an HR and disability management consultant.
Once again, we would like to extend a big thank you to all of our clients that participated in this survey. We look forward to continuing to serve you through 2014!
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Clear Path Employer Services
295 Thompson Drive, Unit 2
Cambridge, Ontario N1T 2B9
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