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Inspired from this question

As people come and go over the years where people are located in a work space can become disjointed. It can be beneficial to move people around inside the work space in order to help optimize where people are seated in order to maximize team synergy or at the very least to help reduce those two people from shouting across the office.

Assuming that leadership has decided that they want to do this. From the perspective of the person organizing and executing the cubicle/office reorganization: What are the challenges/pitfalls of performing a cubicle/office reorganization?

Methods to minimize these risks would also be appreciated.

  • @JoeStrazzere If he handles it poorly, so perhaps there's value to this question. It feels a bit broad of a topic though. "How should I minimise the risks?" is probably better than "What are the risks"? – Lilienthal Jun 23 '16 at 11:14
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    The only way I can see this being a positive for the organizer is if you get rid of open space seating and move to cubicles or better yet offices. Otherwise as @JoeStrazzere said, the person who sets up the rearrangement will be universally despised. There is simply no way to make everyone happy. And even people who get better spots than they currently have are usually unhappy at moving. – HLGEM Jun 23 '16 at 13:26
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When reorganizing cubicles, you must consider the following:

  1. Noise patterns - Software developers, for instance, can't be disturbed while they're coding; so consider grouping software developers together and away from the salespeople, who need to make phone calls.
  2. Natural Light - Many people prefer window seats, but most offices don't have enough window seats for all employees. Instead, try to be mindful of your employees' need for natural light.
  3. Collaboration - Teammates will need to collaborate outside of meeting rooms; so try to seat people who are likely to collaborate near each other.
  4. Cohesion - Invariably, certain employees will prefer chatting with certain other employees (a.k.a. their "work friends".) While this can increase employee satisfaction, if done in excess, it can induce frequent distractions into the workplace. So be mindful of this, and try to seat people where they'll be both happy and productive.
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    @GautierC : it's not enough. Especially as many salespeople will want their pet developer available just here - where he will be available for any questions in case of need, and where he will be deeply prevented from doing a productive job by the noise inherent to any sales activity. – gazzz0x2z Jun 23 '16 at 13:07
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    I had a few more points from the personnel side which were too long for a comment, but this is a very thorough answer. +1 – Retired Codger Jun 23 '16 at 18:55
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I'll start with mitigation of risk.

Communication and buy-in is key. You want to get people's input because everyone may have different wants/needs/concerns. You may get people who want to be near a window, then people like me who can't stand direct sunlight. Someone may go nuts under a vent while someone else may not mind. If you don't get this input, you might end up with the person who wants to be near the window miserable because they didn't get it, and another one miserable because they did.

If people feel included in the decision making, you won't get the hit to morale later.

Take this into consideration along with what Jim G posted and you should be fine.

  • Absolutely. I need sunlight. Maybe because I grew up on a farm, I don't know. I know others who need dark. Some just prefer it (as it seems you do), and some actually needed to have no windows to keep their sleep pattern straight (medical issue I didn't fully understand, but she asked for no windows, so I made an office out of a storeroom and she was very happy). – Wesley Long Jun 23 '16 at 15:51
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    @WesleyLong in my case, it's the Asperger's/Autism. The less stimuli (including sunlight) the better. I also like to keep an incandescent light (low wattage) on my desk for more natural lighting to counter the florescent lighting. – Retired Codger Jun 23 '16 at 16:41
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I have rearranged a few times, these other answers are pretty good, things like getting user input and stuff sound great. But in reality take too long for my taste.

Quickest, least disruptive way, is do the change after hours. Design it however seems logical to you and whoever is helping, and then present it as a fait accompli the next morning. There will be grumbling, there will be tweaking, there will be all sorts of carryon. But by the end of the morning people will be working contentedly enough, and they'll get used to it fairly quickly.

If however you have no idea of office dynamics and logical placements without extensive input, then you're probably not the person for the job. I've always had a clear general plan before starting and modified it as I did the actual move to suit anything I thought of late.

It's also best done by someone in authority who can make arbitrary changes anytime they want if need be. It gives everyone a target to mutter about under their breath who is above any real comeback.

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    Oh, that is just about the worst possible way to handle things. I've turned down job offers where everything was going well right up until the time I asked where I would be working, and then shown a terrible basement office. If you moved me without even talking to me, I'd be interviewing elsewhere by the end of the week. – Wesley Long Jun 23 '16 at 15:48
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    Anyone that uptight I'd be happy enough to let go, no offence. Never had anyone go to that extent though.., just a few moans and wails, then back to work. Eventually they see the move is logical and of benefit. – Kilisi Jun 23 '16 at 15:53
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    And I would be glad to not work for you. If you honestly think that ignoring the single biggest non-monetary part of the job (work environment) is a good way to treat your staff, people are better off avoiding your organization. 15 minutes of effort once a year to give people an environment they prefer is a very small investment in productivity and retention. – Wesley Long Jun 23 '16 at 16:06
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    @WesleyLong is right. Working environment is the #1 reason people leave, money is actually #3 or #4, I forget which. – Retired Codger Jun 23 '16 at 16:56
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    To just move everyone's stuff without even telling them is inconsiderate and obnoxious. And jobs are easy to come by if you're in the right market with the right skill set. – 17 of 26 Jun 24 '16 at 13:50

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