Open-Space-EnvironmentEnvironment is important to us, even if we’re not fully cognizant of the role it plays in the way we feel and behave.  Research suggests it affects creativity, efficiency, productivity and satisfaction.

Today’s work environments are morphing into spaces that are open, few to no walls or private offices.  For some people, this is great.  For others, not so much.   According to researcher John Hackston, your preference depends on your personality. Extroverts, he says, are significantly happier in the open floor plan environment.  They enjoy convenient access to colleagues and find the environment stimulating.  They even report higher levels of productivity.  Introverts tend to feel less satisfied in this kind of work space.

Hackston says personality differences can also be the source of conflicts that arise in open space environments – conflicts over things like the clean desk policy, the ability to personalize workstations, having a place to secure sensitive information and store personal effects, and access to quiet areas.

Extrovert or introvert, here are five tips that may help you feel more comfortable and be more productive.

  • First, know your personality and acknowledge your important preferences, particularly those that impact your effectiveness.
  • If you need quiet in order to concentrate, make regular use of designated “quiet” areas or reserve a conference room.
  • Work from home when you need turbo-charged productivity.
  • If you play music or talk radio, keep the volume down low or use headphones.
  • Put a plant on your desk to block visual distractions, or position your chair so that you face away from the action.

What’s your office environment like these days?  If you’re responsible for moving your company to the new open space concept, doing so represents a change – and in many cases, a significant one.

Using change management techniques as you lead your organization through the process will help ease everyone into the transition.  For example, be sure to:

  • Introduce the changes early on – the what, why, how and when.
  • Allow time for the idea of it to settle in.
  • Share images of what the new space will look like.
  • Help individuals understand how they will be affected.
  • Create opportunities for open dialogue. Listen carefully and validate both excitement and concerns.  Make note of good ideas that surface about how to make the change work for everyone.
  • Affirm your intention to be supportive throughout the process.

Even if your company already uses the open space concept, it’s not too late to assess how those affected feel and look for ways to ensure that they’re able to be productive no matter what their personality.

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