Open office layout strengthens teamwork
“An open office environment encourages employees to connect and understand their colleagues' roles better,” notes Emma Ireland, General Manager at Omega 365 Australia.
Six years ago, Omega 365's Australian branch relocated to a space with an open office design, which they found beneficial. So, when they moved in 2022, they once again opted for a shared workspace to foster collaboration.
Emma highlights the growth and transformations their Australian office has experienced over the past five years, especially with the introduction of a new consulting branch.
“It's been a fascinating journey, welcoming new team members and diving into new areas, all while our system development team continues its work. The open office setup has undeniably fostered closer ties between various departments,” she affirms.
Aiming for a dynamic environment
Although the benefits are significant, Emma acknowledges the inherent challenges of not having a closed office door.
“We have grappled with noise issues, given our frequent phone calls and numerous digital meetings on Teams. The constant calls, especially from those recruiting consultants, can indeed disrupt our developers,” she notes.
Deputy General Manager, Gerald Soh echoes many of these sentiments, reflecting on his experiences at the Omega 365 office in Singapore. Like Emma's team, they opted for an open office design when moving to their new location in 2022.
“We strongly believe that this will promote close collaboration within the company, and we want to create a dynamic and youthful work environment,” he says.
Gerald also sees that the open design facilitates easier communication among employees, leading to richer and more productive discussions.
Enjoying the open office ambiance
The wish to use open office layouts at the Omega 365 offices runs through the entire organization. Chairman and founder, Sigmund Lunde, are among those who see what positive effects an open layout can provide.
“Part of the reason open layouts have a bad reputation among some companies and employees is that they offer less space per workstation compared to individual offices. I think those sitting in an open layout should have as much space as those with their own offices. It is also important that all areas of the layout are designed so that the employee avoids having anyone sitting or walking behind them.”
Even though he is a part of the company's executive management, he prefers to sit in an open office layout himself, together with coworkers passionate about system development.
“I have had many separate office spaces at various project locations for many years. However, after experiencing sitting in an open office environment, I definitely do not want to go back to sitting alone in an office. The communication one can have in open office environments is clearly better. It's simply better to sit in an open office layout,” Sigmund confirms.
He believes many learn faster when they can listen to conversations around the office, and that people are more inclined to share more about themselves and everyday experiences when seated together.
“It is important to gain insight into what others are passionate about in their free time; it can contribute to well-being and act as a safety net for rough days.”
More advantages than disadvantages
Both in Omega 365 Admin and Business Support in Ølensvåg, as well as in Omega 365 Solutions in Haugesund, they see many of the same pros and cons with an open office layout.
“In the Admin department, we often work in teams. For example, those who handle billing and payroll in the same company sit together. We almost exclusively sit in open office environments,” says Bodil Tretterud, Department Manager at Omega 365 Admin.
Bodil highlights increased collaboration, easier discussions with colleagues, and enhanced cross-learning among staff as major benefits. Department Manager at Omega 365 Solutions, Vidar Nordnes, also views the open layout positively. However, he prefers to sit in his own office.
“I do not function well in an open layout since I am on the phone almost all the time. But I still miss it,” shares Vidar, who manages the Haugesund office.
“Even though the office building imposes some limitations, the goal is always to create more open office landscapes. While some prefer to have their own offices, most people enjoy the open layout,” Vidar says.
Vidar also gets support from his colleague, Aslaug Østrem Nesheim, who is Department Manager for Business Support at the headquarters in Ølensvåg.
“We had some initial challenges with the open layout, which have significantly improved after we got a new ceiling, partitions, and carpet on the floor. Sitting in an open layout encourages us to collaborate more closely and enhances our expertise. Especially our new colleagues learn a lot from us sitting together and being able to share experiences quickly,” she states.
Creating an attractive workplace
As president of Omega 365 USA in Houston, Øyvind Vik created an office space where all employees would want to come and take pride in their workplace. He emphasizes the office as an open landscape with plenty of light and a great view. The aim was to design an office environment that prioritizes soundproofing, focus, and collaboration.
“In many traditional offices, companies often removed entire rows of windows reserved only for private offices. I did the opposite. Large parts of the office with window views have been converted into multifunctional open collaborative areas. There is also ample space for informal social gatherings, like golf-putting or cornhole. Additionally, we have several small meeting rooms that are ideal for quick meetings, training, or when there is a need to make phone or Teams calls in a more private setting,” he shares.
“The cubicles are essentially mini-offices without full walls. All cubicles are uniformly equipped with furniture and computer equipment, and they all feature adjustable desks, which are essential for ergonomic comfort. We also encourage employees to personalize and decorate their cubicles, with many choosing to do so for occasions like Halloween and Christmas. Omega 365's Houston office is our largest international branch, currently accommodating approximately 40 out of our 70 employees in USA who work in both system and consulting services on a daily basis.”