into the workplace was a really important component of what we
wanted to do.”
While the emphasis might be on connections, it’s important to
consider how to support the individual, as well.
“If you’re moving to this environment and suddenly you don’t
have a regular desk or a high wall where you can tack pictures, I
think sometimes people can feel a little bit lost or homeless,” said
Pau. “It’s important to work through some of that and consider,
‘How do we still build personalization and community and that
ownership without saying everyone’s got their own little silos?’”
When people imagine open-concept spaces, they often imagine
noise, and lots of it. That can certainly happen, although it can
often be avoided or addressed with some office etiquette ground
rules and a good communication plan.
Sometimes, it’s not noise but quiet that’s the challenge.
“When we go into clients’ workspaces, some of those open concept
environments are deathly quiet,” said Pau. That’s a problem
for collaboration, since workers are less likely to speak up with
half-baked brainstorming ideas if they feel the entire office is listening.
To counter this, some companies gather desks in smaller
groups to create the feeling of intimacy, and others pipe in enough
white noise to ensure voices don’t carry beyond a certain distance.
“For HR, finding a balance between competing employee interests
becomes critically important,” said Pau.
MANAGE YOUR MANAGERS
Another consideration – employees in open and collaborative work
environments often need a different kind of manager. In this setup,
workers typically take more control of their time and tend to move
around each day, making use of meeting rooms, phone booths and
other task-specific areas of the office. The environment also places
an emphasis on the employee’s responsibility to sort out the “how”
of getting a project done.
“A command-and-control style manager may have a hard time
with this transition,” said Pau. “This is where HR can play a role,
and help coach those managers on how to manage by objectives and
expectations, because you don’t have the luxury of observation.”
A MEASURE OF SUCCESS
If an organization’s goal in making this change is increased collaboration,
innovation or some other outcome, consider how you’ll
assess whether you’ve met the goal.
“What’s the measure for you to say this is better than what it
was?” said Pau. “Will you measure productivity, the number of new
ideas that come out, engagement or something else? The question
deserves some thought, even if you don’t know the answer.”
Along the way – and Pau points out it can take a few years for
organizations to fully adjust to a new working environment – it’s
likely that some personalities, professionals and generations may
warm to this shift more easily than others.
“For HR, it’s really about finding solutions to make sure everyone is
accountable and buying in,” said Pau. “It’s not just for the twentysomethings.
This can work for nearly everyone, with the right planning.” n
Make a One-Stop Shop
for First Aid & Safety
Choosing a training provider that can
dedicate expertise and resources for
a comprehensive occupational health
and safety training program is a sound
business decision, especially when
you have to train employees in multiple
The Canadian Red Cross Major Account
Solutions program makes it easier to
ensure consistent quality training for all
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Classroom Training Blended Learning
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ MAY/JUNE 2015 ❚ 61