Pin it:

The Pleasures of an Open Office

A CEO explains why an open plan works for her office—and reveals how to make the best of a communal arrangement.


by Kara Baskin

Pin it:

Over the years, many workplaces haves moved toward open office plans, and the pros and cons are still widely debated. If you’re struggling to make peace with a new workplace with no walls, it may help to hear how one CEO of an open office explains why the system works.

“As a local reporter and anchor in Miami and then ABC correspondent in New York City, I became used to an open room with ringing phones, stuttering AP and Reuters machines, and the clacking of old Royal typewriters,” says Rise Birnbaum, CEO of Washington, DC-based marketing and PR agency Z Comm. “It was an easy decision when designing the office for our agency. I chose open, and after 25 years I’m still a firm believer that an open office plan helps employees and organizations thrive.” Here’s why:

      See also:  6 Simple Ways to Cut Workplace Anxiety

Group Think “An open office allows anyone to call a quick meeting and round up all key staffers in a jif. The meet-up could be about breaking news, a client request, or maybe an impromptu poll on a new service or tactic. Whatever the topic, it’s a fast way to do a multiple brain tap, especially as priorities shift throughout the day.” 

Human Touch “With so much online activity, it’s a pleasure to be able to physically communicate with your next-door colleague. As we all check our phones, laptops and messages, human touch is missing in offices with walls. I think of it like prairie dogs out West. In our open office, you see heads popping over dividers to ask questions or lend a hand—a great antidote to a virtual world.”

     See also:  Be a Multi-Generational Leader

Symbiotic Creativity “When you’re close together, it helps to hear office mates pitch reporters. One of them might add an angle you haven’t thought of. Or, conversely, you might be able to help them perfect their pitch.” 

Constant Affirmation “Whenever anyone books an interview or makes progress in any way, they shout it out, and everyone immediately breaks out in applause. It’s an old-fashioned, work-affirming way to let everyone in the office know, and the clapping and foot stomping help keep the good work going.”

Easy Camaraderie “On Fridays at 5, it’s so much easier to open a few bottles of wine and bags of Doritos and pass around cups and chips when you’re seated close together (and over 21). After all, you’re rubbing shoulders already. What better way to cap off the week than with a roundup of the week’s activities over rose and Ruffles?”

Photo Credit: Alija/Getty Images