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Project Management: Designing an Open Floor Plan for a Tech Company

Project Management: Designing an Open Floor Plan for a Tech Company

If your job description includes “other duties as assigned,” you can be sure that a significant part of your job will be other duties, possibly outside your experience and expertise. This is the fate of many professionals tasked with managing infrequent projects such as remodels. As employees increasingly return to the office, tech companies are finding a need to remodel to expand capacity, encourage collaboration, increase engagement, and simply compete with other employers with cool spaces that reflect the company culture.

If you’re the project manager assigned to the design and installation of an open floor plan, the first thing you should know is this: Help is available. At MojoDesk, we offer the free assistance of experienced salespeople and degreed interior designers who understand the needs of tech companies. We’re ready to work with your budget to help create a healthy, attractive space that complements your workflow, enables collaboration and creativity, and increases morale and productivity.

That’s a lot to promise but we’ve proven our ability for decades. MojoDesk's  parent company, Xybix, has been designing and building sit-to-stand ergonomic desks since 1991. Our shared design team helps manage projects for clients such as the Mayo Clinic, FBI, CIA, and FAA along with thousands of 911 dispatch centers across the United States and Canada.

Xybix Radiology Desk. Sit to stand medical desk.

Read on for details and best practices for designing and installing an open floor plan office. You can find a handy checklist for your project at this link as well.  

Design for People

Before you start planning your project, establish a goal—ideally, a goal related to people. People are the No. 1 asset of any tech company, and you want to keep them healthy and motivated for peak creativity and performance. Even if you need to remodel to fit more people into a space, your goal should be to create a space that is better for people to work in.

At MojoDesk, we believe it all starts with the desk—each person’s home away from home for the 8 to 12 hours they’re in the office. But we also know that many factors come into play—layout, colors, lighting, partitions, and more—and they all need to work together to create a productive workplace.

Woman at height adjustable desk from MojoDesk

Why Tech Loves Open Floor Plans

Open floor plans—that is, tearing down the walls—came about in the 1950s and 1960s for both aesthetic and political reasons. Clean, open spaces look cool, encourage communication and collaboration, and discourage top-down hierarchy. Plus, without offices and doors, you can fit more people into the same space.

Due to the lack of privacy and quiet spaces for concentration, however, open floor plans began morphing into cubicle farms. Inexpensive and customizable cubicles were popular with management but deplored by employees who felt trapped in a maze of small noisy spaces. By the 1990s, as computers got smaller, people were less tied to desks and open offices started overtaking cubicles.

Today, nearly three-quarters of modern offices prefer open floor plans in the belief that fewer divisions foster the spontaneous interactions and collaboration that enhance productivity and lead to creative solutions. In addition, open floor plans can provide tech companies with a competitive edge in recruiting. According to Ingenuity General Contractors: “Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos know that ‘cool’ offices aren’t just fun, they are smart business. These modernized, mostly open spaces aren’t just designed to look good in brochures and magazines (which they do). They’re also important to attract top talent—and help employees perform at their best once they’ve been hired.”

Trends in Today’s Open Offices

Today, practical considerations temper the open office floor plan. Over the last decade, we learned that people still need quiet spaces for concentration and private spaces for confidential work and communications. During the pandemic, we learned about social distancing. And as people are returning to the office, we’re learning about hybrid work and hot desks.

All these new considerations mean you’re no longer thinking about a 1:1 ratio of person to desk—so you can actually purchase much cooler desks for those you do need. You may need larger community spaces such as kitchens, board rooms, and social areas, along with accommodations for privacy. As you plan your project, consider the following best practices—and don’t forget that help is available!

  • Sit-to-stand desks are a must.

    Tech workers expect the flexibility to sit, stand, and move around, especially while working long hours. Plus, the ability to easily switch between sitting and standing is linked to better health, morale, and productivity. Note that we recommend anti-fatigue mats for standing, ergonomic chairs for sitting, and a 50/50 balance of sitting and standing.
  • Ergonomics are key.

    Desks must adjust to the height range of all workers, from 4’11” to 6’2”, to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders (such as carpal tunnel and lower back pain) and ensure the proper monitor placement to prevent eyestrain, neck pain, and headaches. A proper ergonomic setup is linked to decreases in injuries, absenteeism, and errors.
  • Division can be good.

    While open offices are designed to break down barriers, the noise and nosiness can become a problem. Panel systems that come in various heights and finishes—including white board!—provide an easy solution. Use panels for privacy and sound absorption when and where you need them, being careful not to overdo it and create a cubicle feel. [do you sell the Xybix panel systems or just the Dome? Xybix has a new panel system blog not yet posted we could link to or borrow from]
  • Flexibility is better.

    Unlike any other office furniture company, MojoDesk gives you walls when you need them. The MojoDome is an all-in-one solution that allows employees to control their work environment for lighting, privacy, and acoustics. Go from sitting to standing and raise or lower the acoustic dome with a press of a button.
  • Cables must be managed.

    When you plug three monitors into a laptop, add your phone charger, and maybe that non-Bluetooth keyboard, cables are everywhere. Cables and cords must be organized and out of reach to prevent not only the frustration of untangling them but the possibility of equipment damage. Desks often feature magnetic strips or strategically placed holes for managing cords.
  • Sustainability is non-negotiable.

    The Millennials and GenZers who make up much of the tech workforce expect companies to act responsibly. That means purchasing sustainably produced and healthy products. Look for certifications from the Forest Stewardship Council and GREENGUARD.
  • DIY and discounts are desirable.

    For maximum flexibility in arranging—and rearranging—office space, the desks should be simple for anyone to build and light enough for a couple of people to move. And if you’re buying in bulk, you should be getting a discount!
  • Quality matters.

    To get your return on investment, you need desks that last. That means no laminate peeling up thanks to 3D printing and no cracking, bowing, or tipping as proven by BIFMA With sit-to-stand desks, you also need guarantees that the anti-collision technology works. Finally, look for a no-risk return policy and a warranty that covers the entire desk, including the moving parts.
  • Design a functional layout.

    While we recommend desks that are easy to move and rearrange, you definitely want to minimize work disruptions by getting it right the first. At MojoDesk, degreed and experienced interior designers are available to help maximize your space, create a space that complements your communications and workflow, and ensure ADA and electrical code compliance. They’ll deliver 3D renderings for review that showcase your space, including all the colors and finishes you select.
  • Reflect your culture.

    Finally, the fun begins! This is where you go beyond code and compliance and focus on cool. Select colors for walls, desks, panels, and floors with both color psychology and longevity in mind. For example, you might opt for a neutral gray and then add pops of red to stimulate creativity or blue for calm. Add plants for cleaner air, stress reduction, and sound absorption. Add artwork that communicates the company culture. The goal is to create an open office space where everything works together to give people a better place to be.

MojoDesk: A Trusted Solution

Take a look at just two clients who trusted us with significant projects—Globus and Edison Interactive. Both companies appreciate the innovation and quality of MojoDesk along with the expert service provided by our designers.

When the travel company Globus need to reconfigure its offices to fit more people while still offering privacy, Facilities Manager Mark Liveris turned to MojoDesk. “We bought 175 MojoDesks in three different phases, doubling our capacity,” says Liveris. “We also added storage, acoustic panels, and cable management. I would recommend MojoDesk for any of our future needs.”

Software company Edison Interactive relied on MojoDesk to help remodel an open office for 30 engineers. “Most of the time, I love to be able to stand and get all my work done,” says Curtis Evans, Director of Sales, who recommends MojoDesk for anyone who sits at a desk all day, whether working from home or an office. Evans appreciates the quality compared to typical office furniture: “The composite material these are made out of is much more durable it stays cleaner. It just feels like a much higher quality construction.”

Ready to Get Started?

We’re here to help! Reach out to us at MojoDesk to learn more. Call us at 800.297.6656 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mountain Time or complete this informational form.

Resources

PDF - Project Management Cheklist  - Open Office

Meauring for MojoDesk

Call Centers - Open Floor Plan

Productiviy - Open Floor Plan

 





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