What is the best sales office configuration? I began thinking of this with recent headlines about some companies abandoning their open offices, while some are ditching their remote or work-from-home programs. Over the years, I have seen many different sales departments set up in a variety of ways. Each has advantages and disadvantages alike. But the topic of office configuration evokes so much emotion. I have actually seen sales people and managers decline job offers because the office situation didn’t meet their preferences.
So, with that in mind, let’s explore the three main types of sales office environments and see how they measure up.
Office with Walls and a Door
- Private and quiet, enabling greater focus and concentration
- Allows for more storage of professional and personal artifacts
- In many cases, has a window providing natural light, which can stimulate mood and energy levels
- Makes it difficult to interact with others, especially if your door is always closed
Open Office or Cubicle
- Increases interaction, which lets you hear and learn from others
- Ability to know if someone is in their “office” or not
- Although people talk more, it’s often not about work-related things
- Background noise and other distractions can hamper concentration
- Actually may increase the need to finish work at home
- Lack of privacy, so personal phone conversations (and anything on your desk) are no longer sacred
- Very little storage or desk room for artifacts
Working from Home
- Saves time since there’s no travel/commute
- Greater tendency to spend that extra time working productively
- Saves money on gas, coffee and meals
- Distractions and noise from family, pets, etc. make it difficult to focus, although they tend to be occasional rather than constant (and can be negotiated)
My Ideal Sales Office Configuration
For me personally, I liked working in an office with walls and a door, but felt it was isolating. The office gave me the privacy I needed to shut the door to have a difficult discussion. In an open office or cubicle, I often had to find an available conference room for important phone calls or meetings. I also really liked it though, even when I was managing a big sales team. Only a small portion of my team was at my location and I sat right in the middle of them. I loved hearing the interaction and learned a lot from the conversations going on around me. Over time, I learned to tune things out and focus. But I always had the ability to go into one of the many conference rooms we had on the floor if I needed privacy for an important conversation, a performance review or a contract negotiation.
Today, I work from home. Many people hate it, but I love it. Maybe it’s because I learned how to tune extraneous things out and focus, but what I love, love, love the most is “the commute.” It’s sometimes difficult when my family wants my attention while I’m working, but we have come to an agreement that works for everyone.
Now, I am only mentioning three of the most common sales office environments. I’m sure there are many more as companies experiment with different things, like quiet rooms and closed spaces. What sales office configuration works best for you?
Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter