Rants and Raves: Open Offices

This is a special Rants AND Raves post. Working in an open office environment has some major advantages and can create some minor issues. Overall, working elbow to elbow with your coworkers is fun and makes for some big laughs and brilliant brainstorming sessions.

Here are some ups and downs about open concept offices that we’ve experienced. We bet they’ll sound familiar to everyone else with this groovy office design.

  • Saying hi to everyone at once first thing in the morning, then discussing the various outfits sported by the team before getting down to work.
  • Furry little friends brightening our day. Our office mascots, Angel and Brooklyn, can visit everyone in the open layout for a lil’ scratch behind the ears.
  • Team brainstorms and problem-solving, in an instant.
  • Spontaneous dance parties that erupt when we’re stressed.
  • Being able to sneakily roll your eyes at someone across the room, without anyone else noticing.

  • Not being able to sneak in five minutes late without anyone noticing.
  • Hearing the same Katy Perry song on the local radio station 15 times a day.
  • Smelling the spicy chili that someone ate for lunch, for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Five publicists on five phone calls with five important clients = noisy.
Solutions to the above:

  • Don’t be late! Open concept or not, it’s not a good impression to make with your boss or team, or a great way to start your day.
  • Personalize your tunes for the day with an online, build-it-yourself radio station. We like Grooveshark and The Hype Machine.  Use earphones.
  • Bring spicy chili for everyone! That way, no one can complain about the lingering odour (they’ll be too busy trying to keep awake after their delicious hot lunch). Or, invest in some yummy smelling candles to light after lunch is finished.
  • We’ve worked out an office dog schedule – more low-key days (like Friday) have Angel and Brooklyn, while high-stress days are dog-free (like during TIFF).
  • Installing sound barriers between stations helps with phone call noise. Also, we’ve found that discussing schedules can help. Knowing that your coworker is on an important call at 1p.m. can mean that you schedule yours for later that afternoon.

Open offices mean that you must be much more considerate of your fellow desk jockeys. The upside? A work environment that’s a lot more fun for everyone!

What are your recommendations for a smooth and easy open office work environment?

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