Open Office Floorplan

By Jeremy Koellish, COO

Open workspaces are nothing new. But, for us, a busy MSP with Field Technicians running around, Account Managers making calls and a support line humming away, tearing down the walls was not an intuitive choice – especially in the age of collaboration software. By physically dividing our office into cubicles clustered around specific functions we were actually cutting off the natural circulation of information. It wasn’t until we realized this that we make the change. Here’s how we did it.

Step 1: Prime your team. Change is rough. You can’t just walk into the office one day and announce, “Hey, we are going to change your entire work environment in 5 minutes.” You need buy-in to make it work, and that starts with communicating the ‘why’ behind the change. Let your team know that you feel the barriers are creating silos of information that are impeding efficiency. And when efficiency and communication are stunted, culture suffers and client services suffer – and both affect the bottom line.

Step 2: Support moving day. Extend that team buy-in beyond just talk. Get your team involved in the actual strategizing around the change. For example, we sent around a blank floor layout for people to make their suggestions on. This is useful for planning, sure, but it is also really helpful to rally everyone around the change, particularly in our case where we were combining our project and maintenance teams together for the first time.

Step 3: Keep your ear to the ground. Which will be easier to do now that everyone is in one place! But I don’t mean eavesdropping, I mean making sure that the new layout is fostering camaraderie and communication. Without those two things, the whole point of tearing down the walls is lost. There will be rumblings at first, but we are finding that patience plus flexibility is the key. If someone is really struggling with the change, speak to them about it. It may be as simple as asking a team member to speak quieter on the phone or not smack their gum. Whatever the issue may be, it’s critical to take the pulse of the room and make any needed adjustments.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @JKoellish for more insights, How To’s and IT Humor