Topic Thread

1.  Office Layout

Posted 06-13-2017 10:06

We are a small general contractor currently having a growth spurt like so many others.  As a result we are moving to another floor of our building which has more space for offices.  There has now been a change in the scope, however,  of the new plans which has only a few offices and the rest of the 25 employees in group settings and/or bench seating.  It will also have a café setting to encourage the social aspects of our team.  Wondering if any other contractors have gone with the new trend in office layout which is sold as being more collaborative and better lit and sharper in design.  My question is what were the office transition pains if any for any of you that have done something similar.  Also what were the positives.   We have several project managers currently in offices that would now move to a cube type setting.   I'm concerned about the impact on morale if any.


Darla Brooks

Controller & Director of Human Resources


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2.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-15-2017 13:41
Good questions, we are anticipating move and I would be interested in the response from others.  One of our concerns with different office settings is the amount of time everyone spends on the phone and the distraction those conversations can be to others around them, if we had more open offices or bench type seating.

Kellie Rowe
Catworks Construction
Battle Ground WA
(360) 666-1113

3.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-16-2017 08:37
​We are also moving into the new open concept in August.  One of the things they have done is added "white noise" to the building so that you can't hear phone conversations and aren't distracted by people around you.  I haven't been in this type of environment before so I'm also anxious to see how people adjust going from offices and tall walls to all being open.

Dee McDonald
Chief Financial Officer
Fowler Managment Services
Edwardsville IL

4.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-17-2017 10:25


We have also moved to the open office format.  As several have noted, the main benefit of this is the collaborative nature of hearing what is going on around you.  The white noise machines would seem to defeat the purpose of the open office environment, but clearly there are times when you need to tune out your surroundings or have meetings, etc that don't involve 20 folks.  In terms of phone calls, we have a small phone room, which is just a two chair conference room where you can go if you need to make a private call.  You can also just walk outside for this.  Our folks work basically in scrum teams at several large tables, and people who support these teams basically migrate to the different tables as they move from team to team.  Our accounting folks are in a separate area, but within our area we are open.  If I need to have a confidential call I will just grab the phone room or conference room.


R. Patrick Lloyd  | Chief Financial Officer
Golden Construction, LLC
2212 First Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
P.  205.327.6617  |  C. 205.283.8936  |   F. 205.327.6667




5.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-16-2017 10:36
Good morning - We have worked in an open office environment for the past 10 years and it works great. Like everything, there are compromises, but if your workforce is truly collaborative this is the only way to go. We have employees helping each other with problems and brainstorming together, even when they are not working on the same projects or for the same direct report. There are times that I overhear something that I think I should poke my nose into and it is easily done without seeming intrusive. Our senior management have offices that open to the "bullpen" area so they have some privacy, but are readily accessible as well. If someone needs to make a personal call they either go into a conference room or outside (the weather is one of the few benefits to being based in Southern California). It has worked extremely well for us and has really helped shape our culture into one that is truly collaborative.

That's my two cents....


J. Wickham Zimmerman
Newport Beach CA
(714) 637-4747

6.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-16-2017 12:20
​We are completing our office remodel and moved to this concept of cubicles to encourage team building.  It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye but the verdict is still out on the distraction level due to verbal conversations taking place all around you.  We are installing a white noise system to mitigate it; won't know how well it works in our particular office until it is up and running - it has however worked very well in one of our other office locations.  We shall see once everything is completed and audio system installed.

Laura Venable BSBA
Assistant Controller
Helix Electric
Las Vegas NV
(702) 697-8218

7.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-19-2017 09:39
​I agree that you need to be aware to the distractions.  Accounting people do need to be able to concentrate on their work and sometimes this makes it very difficult for them.  I was involved in a move and organization of office space several years ago.  The VP of Operations wanted the project accountants in the open area and I disagreed and put them in cubicles in the accounting department which had less distractions.  I have shared this event with other people, and they agree that accounting people need less distractions.

Luther Salonen CCIFP / BA
Salonen CFO Services
Kansas City MO
(816) 808-7684

8.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-20-2017 18:24

I agree with Luther.  I also resisted the attempt to put the accountants in the general area but I did create more of an open office within the accounting department.  Our folks work in something of a bullpen arrangement, with myself included, and I just go in a conference room if I need to make a call.  This arrangement has worked well for a couple of reasons:

1)      I am more attuned to what my group is doing and can often short-circuit a wasted effort and redirect to a more positive outcome.

2)      I have noticed them paying more attention to my conversations and what I am doing, which seems to make them feel more connected to the "mission" of our department, which gives them more clarity around their own responsibilities.


R. Patrick Lloyd  | Chief Financial Officer
Golden Construction, LLC
2212 First Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
P.  205.327.6617  |  C. 205.283.8936  |   F. 205.327.6667




9.  RE: Office Layout

Posted 06-19-2017 10:19
I believe it was the tech industry that started this trend of the open office layout, and many of them have realized that the idea was good but possibly incomplete. If you google "open-office concept" you will get several hits on studies and other evidence against the concept. I work in one, and I frequently swap a weekend day of work for a weekday just so I can get things done that require uninterrupted concentration. Some things to consider: Have ample "quiet rooms" that people can use to take phone calls that may get heated or loud for any reason and make sure everyone knows how to pick up a line that has been placed on hold at a different location; use laptops instead of desktops and have docking stations with multiple monitors in quiet areas to allow those who need to get some serenity a bit of mobility; have protocols already determined for the wearing of head phones at one's desk; create an office-wide norm of how to fake a closed door...i.e a red flag means my door is closed and please check my calendar or shoot me an email to find out when I am available for a walk-by conversation; make sure that there are locking cabinets/drawers available for easy storage of sensitive/personal storage, or valuables; make sure you set a minimum standard of cleanliness/organization...walking by a chaotic desk everyday you enter the office may cause some to feel stress or even resentment; have the T-stat talk and err on the cool side.

Personally, I think collaboration can be better achieved with applications like Skype and Windows Teams and Face Time than by trying to force interaction by corralling people, but it also depends on the size of the team and the set up of the corral. Hope it works out for you!

Eileen Cigala BBA/Accounting
Program Administrator
Capstone Mechanical, LP.
Waco TX
(254) 537-9039