Startup Style – Open Floorplans with No Private Offices

In two weeks we’re moving into a newly renovated suite in the Atlanta Tech Village with a number of cool features like 12 foot ceilings, exposed duct work, indirect lighting, iPads outside all meeting rooms/phone booth rooms, seven 70 inch LED TVs mounted on the walls, and an open floorplan with no private offices. I’ve been a part of a number of cool, interesting offices but this will be the first time I’ve tried the open floorplan with no private offices.

Design wise, we’ll have 40 desks total split into two large rooms with 25 and 15 desks respectively. Then, on the interior perimeter of the suite, we have three phone booths (tiny rooms for personal calls, cold calling, web demos, etc), four team rooms that support up to four people per room, and one board room that supports 14+ people. So, seven shared rooms for 40 people. Assuming 12 people are gone on any given day working from home, on vacation, at a trade show, etc. that leaves a ratio of one shared private room per four people, which feels like plenty right now (we can squeeze in more desks in the open floor plan eventually).

Naturally, there are concerns about noise, personal space, and interruptions. We’ll have high quality white noise machines, sound boards, rollable partitions, and plenty of furniture to help with some of the noise but a loud conversation will still carry throughout the space. Part of the process will be unwinding general tendencies to collaborate right on the spot in the open area and instead move to the one of the break out rooms (the different rooms will be equipped with white board paint and iMacs to enhance their usefulness).

Open floorplans with no private offices are still rare but slowly growing in popularity, especially in the startup world. It’s a new change for me and I’m looking forward to it.

What else? What are your thoughts on open floorplans with no private offices?

9 thoughts on “Startup Style – Open Floorplans with No Private Offices

  1. David,

    You described the Sirius offices in Wilton, CT practically to a T. We transitioned from private offices to the open floor plan a year ago this August and the dynamic has been very positive for us. Given the nature of our business do we have a few more private meeting rooms, but even those have glass walls to promote the feeling of openness.

    Enjoy your new space!

  2. We have just moved our office into an open plan. It is a small office, usually only 3 people are in the office all the time, but noise is definitely going to be an issue, yesterday I was very distracted while speaking to a client on the phone. I hope that once our partitions are installed, this will be less a problem, but I’m interested to hear more about these white noise machines. Please elaborate,

  3. There was just this recent article about open plan offices.

    I personally don’t enjoy open plan at all. It is way too distracting when you are trying to get some coding done. Fortunately noise cancelling headphones help quite a bit. You still have to deal with the visual noise, though.

    I guess this might be more of a personal thing, though. And for certain things shared spaces are just fine. I would stick to a mixed scheme myself. Ideally there would be private offices you could use whenever you really need to concentrate.

  4. That is incredible news! I really like the idea of an open office concept, especially in a creative enviroment, it makes it much easier to brainstorm/ bounce ideas off of each other. With that being said it is also very important to have the right group of people working together because as we all know everything doesn’t work for everybody and negative energy can spread like wildfire!

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