I work in an open office.

Chances are you do too. The circulating number is 70% of all offices have an open office plan. Walls covered with whiteboard paint, modern furniture, and coworkers walking and stopping and talking.

In January, Facebook’s Chief People Officer is quoted in the Harvard Business Review talking about their 430,000 square-foot open office design:

“...really creates an environment where people can collaborate; they can innovate together...just a really fun collaborative creative space.”

Industries have spent a ton of time and money to move their people into large rooms where they can have interactions that breed collaboration.

But here’s the thing. For the amount of research, debate and energy that goes into how the office looks and flows, building the right efficiencies into our day-to-day processes will do loads more to facilitate collaborations than the casual passing from a coworker returning from filling a water cup.

Answer the basic questions

It starts by having the basics in place. Systems that help everyone stay on the same page. That answers the simple questions of what, when and where, so when employees do ‘bump’ into each other, it’s not to interrupt concentrated work, it’s to have the collaborative, innovative conversations that were intended from the start.

For example. Some of the basic questions that everyone could have answered with the right systems in place.

  1. What are you working on? - Our project management softwares and time tracking applications say what is on your plate, but they don’t say when a task is scheduled to get done (a much more important question).
  2. What’s your week look like? - A bit more complicated, but still easily answered with the right time allocation software. Not necessarily a scheduling app, but a platform that lays out tasks as hours in a week.
  3. How many hours did you spend on that project? - Looking into past weeks or days to see how a project is matching up against its budget.

All important questions. Necessary for getting work done. Easily answered with the right system.

For good or bad, the open office is here to stay, make yours more efficient and better suited for the collaboration you hoped for in the first place.

HourStack helps teams answer these basic questions and more.