Protocols and Policies to Ensure a Positive Transition to an Open Office

October 23, 2018

There are many excellent reasons for an organization to make a move from traditional closed offices to a more open environment. Open environments can improve collaboration, facilitate communication across departments and free the organization from the barriers often presented by silos. As an added bonus, there can be significant cost savings through a more efficient use of overall space.

But, to ensure successful transition, that allows for the realization of these benefits, organizations must consider proper planning, including establishing  protocols and policies to ensure a smooth transition with minimal downtime and wide-spread acceptance of and satisfaction with the new environment.

5 Key Steps to Take Prior to the Move

Establish Leadership Support

Any successful change begins at the top. When a major organizational shift is in play, it’s vital that leadership is part of the development of the plan and its communication. Managers should be included so that they are able to effectively communicate change to their teams.

Share Design Plans and the Business Case for the Open Office

Organizations should use a variety of communication tools to educate employees on the planned changes, the key business drivers for the change, and the benefits expected to accompany the change. Visual displays of the new space are also helpful in communication to those impacted.

Support Employees in Preparing for the Transition

Help employees prepare for a new, open environment by providing the tools and technologies needed to support the transition. This may include facilitating the move to digital document storage and management.

Obtain Employee Input and Buy-In

The sooner employees can be included in the process, the better. Being a part of a transition to the open office during the planning stages helps employees feel they have a voice and a greater sense of control of a change that may be intimidating. Consider allowing a focus group, representative of each department, to brainstorm a list of top concerns employee may have about working in an open space and then entrust the group with creating a guideline or protocol to address each issue.

Verify Physical Space and Technology are Optimized for Open Space

Before making the final move to a new, open space, all necessary elements of technology must be available, tested and working consistently. Employees and managers should be properly trained in the use of all new technologies, which should include hoteling software and security systems. And, of course, all individual and team workspaces should be ready for occupancy.

3 Ways to Keep a Positive Vibe On and After Moving Day

Socialize Guidelines and Protocols

As the move is underway, the guidelines and protocols developed during the planning stages will be a vital communication tool, used to reinforce the message strategy and the success of the move. Protocols should be included in any move-related employee training and should be posted electronically and physically in whatever means are most logical for the organization and the space.

Celebrate the Move

Continue to promote the move positively in all organizational messaging. Celebrating the move could include a welcome gift for each employee commemorating moving day, a special event in the new space, and other activities to keep the positive spirit instilled during the planning stages.

Promote Change from the Top

As the move occurs, it’s essential that management and executives are present and are seen observing the new guidelines and protocols. The more opportunity that employees have to observe leaders adapting to the new workspace and its protocols, the more successful the move will be for all involved.

Fine-tuning Policies After the Move

After the move, continue to monitor what’s working and what is not. Encourage conversation and feedback on what protocols are effective and which may need ro be adjusted to make the work environment more productive for all.

Sample Guidelines and Protocols for an Open Office

Successful transition to an open office will include guideline to address the following issues:

Noise

Policies should include an understanding of what is appropriate in terms of vocal tone and volume, phone etiquette, and non-verbal noise. There should also be clear policies on the availability and use of closed spaces for group meetings that might be disruptive to other teams.

Respectful Communication

An open office is not an invitation to interrupt. Encourage the adoption and recognition of privacy cues such as wearing headphones or other signs that an individual is focused on work.

Privacy

Protocols should be in place to manage the discussion of any confidential or sensitive projects, including the use of small private meeting spaces for these types of conversations. Individual privacy must also be considered and respected in an open office. Privacy screens on monitors and proper security protocols such as locking computers when away from the workstation, can help to ensure this.

Cleanliness

Policies should address where workers should store personal items, how paperwork should be managed and archived digitally to the extent possible, and how workspaces should be maintained with minimal clutter.

Odors

Odors carry just as noise does. In an open workspace, eating should be directed primarily to community spaces, especially the consumption of food with stronger aromas. In addition to food odors, air fresheners and heavy perfumes may also cause sensitivities for some individuals.

Use of Common Spaces

Protocols should be established to ensure that common spaces are used respectfully. This includes proper use of meeting space scheduling, not allowing meetings to run over reserved time and canceling reservations when a room is no longer needed. Respectul used of common spaces also includes turning off any equipment, putting chairs and other furniture back in proper order, cleaning off tables and whiteboards.

Moving to an open workspace can only be successful when the proper technology is part of that move. Asure Software can support every aspect of your transition to an open space. Our Asset and Move Management software can ensure a seamless experience and our space utilization software, including meeting room scheduling and workspace utilization and occupancy sensors, can provide a productive ongoing open office environment.