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20 April 2018

OPEN SPACE = OPEN STRESS?

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The Department of Management and Marketing (DMM) and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management (DHTM) in the Faculty of Business Administration and Economics (FBAE) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU) organized on April 20, 2017, its annual CSR-HR conference titled, "Open Space = Open Stress?"

Attending the conference were: CEO of NS&A Nagi Sfeir, Group Vice-President Operations at Transmed Group Maroun Merhi, CEO of SKYNET Mourad Aoun, Planning and Project Management Advisor at Bank Audi Rami Nassar, in the presence of deans, faculty, staff, and students. DMM Chairperson at NDU Dr. Jennifer Abou Hamad moderated the conference, which aimed to engage students in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Human Resources (HR) and DHTM faculty member Omar Sakr was the master of ceremony.

Some may think that an open space workplace symbolizes modernity and transparency at work; however, it could be a perpetual nightmare. Proponents of open space put forward the following advantages: space saving, better communication among employees and teams, better monitoring of company activities, and mutual supervision. On the other hand, opponents of open space put forward the following disadvantages: noisy, lacking in privacy, forcing employees to succumb to nosy colleagues, and negatively affecting productivity.

Dean of FBAE Dr. Fadi Karaa welcomed all the attendees and gave a small overview of the conference.

For his part, Sfeir explained open space architecture, which has evolved dramatically over the decades. The benefits of an architecturally appealing office space to create an overall good vibe far outweigh the initial costs. Employees are spending less and less time at the office, so there is a need to provide them with a place they want to be – a place they enjoy being in. He said, “Open space allows for better communication and for increased performance.”

Merhi discussed the reasons behind why companies need an open space work environment. The improved communication that results from a lack of physical barriers enable employees to collaborate freely– bounce ideas off of each other and ask for assistance, as needs arise. The fluid communication enables them to establish relationships with their colleagues and create an atmosphere of greater teamwork, fulfillment, and happiness. From a managing perspective, he said, “Management has to be involved in the main elements of office designs.”

Aoun talked about the evolution of SKYNET and its current open space architecture throughout its offices; in addition to the greenery, which gives employees positive vibes and a feeling of joy when they are in the workplace. He said, “Our core mission focuses on care, clarity, legacy, and social accountability.”

Finally, Nassar focused on the primary purpose of an office building, which must be designed to facilitate a workplace and environment that fosters information and knowledge processing activities, such as filing, planning, designing, supervising, analyzing, deciding, and communicating. He added, “Factors influencing office workplace planning and design are functional, technical, and financial factors.”

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