Over the past years there has been a cultural shift to open plan working. The open office was first conceived by Quickborner a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the 1950s, to facilitate communication and idea flow. Their mantra: to furnish people with the most effective, productive and pleasant working environments possible.
Todays executives may well be following a trend in terms of open plan offices, or they may have the secret to workplace environmental success. Either way I wonder how many have taken the time to understand the behavior of their employees, and more importantly, the workplace environment within which their people can excel.
Uncovering the talent and behaviors of individuals not only provides insight into how and where they will fit in a business, but will also reveal important insight into the environment within which they will flourish.
I suspect that those who could be classed as outgoing and expressive were part of the decision makers who decided that open plan working was the best solution for business success. They would have determined that this environment would build team relationships and produce outstanding results.
Little or no regard will have been given to those who do well, not in an open workplace environment, but in the relative privacy of a closed office. This does not set them apart as non-team participants rather that they need time to withdraw, reflect and think through solutions.
What about those individuals who need practical diplomatic leadership and are hesitant to make decisions without guidance? Large open workplaces environments with an all in together approach will leave them unmotivated, unproductive and overly stressed.
Every business, every project, every team needs a mixture of talent and behaviors to be successful. But the key to success is more than knowing the talents in their people, but also what environment is most likely to bring out the best of the talents.
Lillian Cunningham of the Washington Post interviewed Susan Cain Author of Quiet, who said:
The vast majority of employees work in open-plan offices, where youre in a big open room with other people. There are economic reasons for setting up offices this way, but the theory is that its said to produce greater collaboration and greater creativity. For many introverts, in particular, this is a really uncomfortable way to work. Its an incredibly over stimulating environment, where its hard to concentrate.http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-leadership/wp/2013/09/24/the-science-of-introverts-and-the-workplace/
Philip Landau writes in the Guardian Newspaper: ?Extensive international research from Ipsos and the Workspace Futures Team of Steelcase shows that 85% of people are dissatisfied with their working environment and cant concentrate. Of those surveyed 95% said working privately was important to them, but only 41% said they could do so, and 31% had to leave the office to get work completed. More than 10,000 workers across 14 countries were surveyed.http://www.theguardian.com/money/work-blog/2014/sep/29/open-plan-office-health-productivity
Whilst many say that interconnection and teamwork are important requirements for organization effectiveness and success, a more likely delivery of rewards is when individually tailored behavioral based experiences are created in the workplace.
It is no longer enough to rely on skills and talents; understanding behaviors and the optimum environment to achieve sustainable success has to be the way forward.
People want to work effectively; the way in which they do that will range, for example, from group brainstorming to quiet introspection; from a systematic data driven approach; to spontaneous, random sharing. Each approach has its merits. Each method will produce outcomes. But to build truly effective teams, leaders need to take behavioral management to a whole new level to gain insight into the needs of others. They need to understand and recognize the distinctions of a situation. In other words recognize how individuals work in certain environments and respond appropriately.
How many leaders truly understand the power of inherent behaviors and further, how environments shape performance? Being able to recognize the differentiating factors associated with behavioral relationship management can change the landscape of thinking and drive up business accomplishments.
In Summary ? open plan working for some people may well be the best way to collaborate. But it can be very restrictive to others. One solution is to compromise by designing workspaces that balance the need for interaction with colleagues and quiet time for those that need to focus and reflect.
The starting point to be able to make these kinds of work place environment calls is to uncover every persons inherent unique DNA Behavior code which represents their natural behavioral style.? This will reveal a persons natural behavioral style and how it is shaped into their overall personality by their personal environment (history, experiences), values and education.
Having this knowledge and applying it to a work force will impact every business, career, financial and life decision that the individual and leadership makes.