Open Workspaces: Boost Collaboration and Productivity in Accounting Firms

published on 14 April 2023

Breaking Down Barriers With An Open-Concept Workplace

Open workspaces are everywhere. These open-concept offices without cubicles or enclosed desks are gaining popularity in almost every industry, including accounting firms. Most of them also offer communal areas, such as meeting rooms, lounges, and kitchens. In this article, we are breaking down why open workspaces can help you improve collaboration and productivity on your team.

How Can An Open Workspace Change Your Game In The Accounting Industry?

Accounting firms rely heavily on teamwork and communication. The boom in team-collaboration platforms brought by remote work helped improve these communications, but it falls short when it comes to creativity and quick decision-making. There is nothing like breaking down a wall and creating a sense of community and trust.

In open workspaces, employees can easily share ideas, work on projects together, and seek help from teammates. This enhances efficiency and effectiveness, ultimately leading to better client satisfaction and revenue growth.

So, let's see some of these benefits we are talking about.

Collaboration in Open Workspaces

This is one of the most significant benefits of open workspaces. In traditional offices, employees are often isolated in individual cubicles, which can limit communication and crush motivation. In contrast, open workspaces facilitate collaboration by creating an environment where employees can easily interact and exchange ideas. This helps break down silos within the organization, leading to improved teamwork and a more cohesive workforce.

What About Productivity?

Imagine that you are looking for a file in the company's cloud but cannot find it. It's a document created by Matt and you need it to meet your due date. You send him a message through corporate chat but he's on the phone right now and then he's making himself a coffee. Your question has been lost in the endless messages that come to Matt every day and it is possible that he will answer you in a couple of hours. So you send him a meeting invite to help you, just 5 minutes. But he will answer the invitation in half an hour.

Now imagine raising your head above your computer and seeing that Matt is on the phone. You wait a few minutes until he hangs up and you say "hey matt, where is that file you told me about", "it's in the new projects folder, inside Corporate".

Open workspaces boost productivity by cutting down intermediaries and saving valuable time on the most simple tasks. Employees feel more connected to their team, leading to greater engagement and motivation. Additionally, open workspaces can provide autonomy and flexibility, allowing employees to manage their time and workloads more effectively.

Some Challenges You May Find Along The Way

While open workspaces offer many benefits, they also present some challenges that accounting firms should be aware of. For example, noise levels, distractions, and lack of privacy can be issues in open workspaces.

Despite the apparent ease of communication afforded by modern structures and tools, evidence suggests that these changes may not necessarily foster increased or meaningful interactions among employees. The disconnect between the physical architecture, encompassing office layouts and shared spaces, and the digital architecture, comprising communication tools, calls for a reevaluation of workplace dynamics.

These challenges can be overcome but to do so leaders need to be cautious against assuming that a superior office blueprint alone can resolve collaboration issues, emphasizing the need to consider tasks, roles, and organizational culture in conjunction with workspace design. Is paramount to establish clear rules and guidelines, and provide employees with private areas for focused work.

4 Things You Should Keep In Mind When Designing An Open Workspace

Designing an effective open workspace requires careful consideration of various factors, such as employee needs, layout, and office furniture. To create an open workspace that successfully fosters collaboration and productivity, you  should consider:

  • Define the space: open spaces do not mean chaos or lack of privacy. Clearly defined areas in the workspace, such as meeting rooms, collaboration areas, and private workstations are essential.
  • Invest in ergonomic furniture: this goes without saying, take care of your employees. Provide comfortable chairs, desks, and other ergonomic office furniture that supports good posture and enhances productivity.
  • Incorporate natural light: natural light has been shown to improve employee well-being and productivity, so you should ensure that the workspace is well-lit with plenty of natural light.
  • Provide noise control: consider sound-absorbing materials and technologies to minimize noise levels in the workspace and ensure a peaceful environment. Remember, this should not become a chaos pit.

All in all, open workspaces can be a great solution to promote collaboration and productivity at work. By following the tips and strategies in this article, accounting firms can design effective open workspaces that foster a culture of teamwork and boost employee performance. By embracing open workspaces, accounting firms can stay ahead of the competition and provide better services to their clients.

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Kevin Mitchell, CPA

Senior Manager and CPA with over 20 years of experience in accounting and financial services, specializing in risk management and regulatory compliance. Skilled in managing audits and leading teams to deliver exceptional services. Proud father of two.

­čöŚ Kevin Mitchell | LinkedIn

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