3 Ways To Let Employees Control Their Space When You Have An Open Office Plan

Posted on: 9 December 2015

The design of your office space can affect your employees' ability, motivation, and opportunity, all of which will directly impact their productivity and satisfaction. With so many design aspects to consider, such as color schemes, lighting, temperature control, and crowding, it is easy to overlook the importance of employee choice. But giving your employees control over their environment can help them feel more satisfied and experience less stress at work. With an open office plan, you may think that integrating your employees' individual styles into your overall theme may be impossible, but check out these three ways that you can allow your employees plenty of control while maintaining a cohesive look. 

Let Employees Select Their Own Workstation Furniture 

Allowing an employee to purchase their own workstation furniture not only allows them to select furniture that they like, but it also allows them to set up their workstation in a way that is efficient for their work style and ergonomically correct for their body. Allowing each individual to select their workstation furniture makes sure that the employee who wants a standing workstation gets one and the one who needs a chair with extra lumbar support is taken care of. 

However, with an open office plan, it is important that your furniture has an overarching theme so that your office does not appear chaotic and haphazard. With this in mind, you should select one or two lines of furniture that have a few variation that your employees can select from. You may also want to limit their color selection so that workstations with drastically different designs are pulled together by their color scheme. 

Because this is a more expensive choice, it is generally practiced by larger companies or those with a low turnover rate. 

Provide A Variety Of Unassigned Workstations

One way to allow your employees to exercise their power of choice every day is to offer a variety of unassigned workstations in your office. This is a good choice for plug-and-work offices, where your employees each have personal laptops that they can set up at any workstation. Alternatively, if all work is saved on a shared server, then employees can access their work profile from any computer at any workstation in the office. 

The benefit of unassigned workstations is that your employees can use whichever station fits their current mood and needs. They can alternate between standing and sitting stations. They can use a station near a window, near other people, or off in a corner by themselves. However, it does not give employees ownership over an individual station, which can be a drawback for many employees. Also, employees may be frustrated if the station they want to use is often used by another employee. That can cause animosity between your employees. 

This can be a good idea if you have a higher turnover rate or if you have many employees that often work remotely. 

Experiment With Varying Panel Heights Between Workstations 

If you want to have your employees all use the same type of workstation, then you might want to experiment with providing privacy panels for your employees to use. You can keep the open office plan while still providing both medium and short privacy panels to employees who want them. Privacy panels can make your employees feel like they have a bit of their own space in the office without detracting from the open, collaborative feel of the space. 

By letting your employees select the height of their privacy panels, you give them a little more say in the layout of the office without sacrificing the overall design. 

Of course, choices don't stop at the selection of office furniture. You should consider other types of employee freedom, from choosing working teams to the possibility for remote work. While not all employee-led choices may be viable for your company, it is important to consider how extra freedom might affect your employees.