When the concept of an open plan office was discovered, almost everyone jumped onto the latest bandwagon. Open plan offices became the go-to pattern of workplaces trying to ensure productivity, and people could sing nothing but praise about them. However, times are always changing, and these days you’ll find an equally spirited camp of people who’d rather see open plan offices going the way of the dodo. So, what are the facts about this most famous type of office layout? Are they good or bad? Or are they somewhere in between? In today’s post, we’re taking a closer look…
We’ll begin with the negative aspects of an open office, as it’s this perspective that seems to hold the most weight at present. In brief, here are some of the arguments against an open plan office:
Increasingly, open plan offices are being pinpointed as environments where germs spread. In open plan offices, everything is common. Phones, tables, photocopiers, fridges, general desk space and the like are all communal, so it’s easy for illnesses to spread like wildfire.
The whole point of an open plan office is to break down barriers, but this opens up an abundance of background noise. As such, people who are easily distracted are going to have a hard time. Visual privacy is also removed, opening up even more possibilities to be distracted.
Open plan offices are supposed to be homely, but the shared space often means that clutter builds up, and it also prevents you from really ‘taking root’ by making a space truly your own. After all, your space isn’t really your own, which can make things feel impersonal.
So what about the advantages of open offices? What made them take off in the first place? There were a number of reasons for the initial popularity, with the following being some of main points:
From an employer’s point of view, open layouts cut the costs of additional office space right down to a bare minimum. Heating is only needed in one large room, open spaces need less lighting and spatial efficiency is at an absolute maximum. All told, they’re highly convenient.
Leaving the room to go and talk to a colleague is more convoluted than speaking to a person sat opposite or even next to you. Open plan offices allow plenty of free-flowing communication, even between separate departments, who can all be situated in the same room.
Rather like communication, building up a sense of camaraderie is easier in an open plan office. Building up a friendship with someone in a separate room isn’t half as natural as getting to know the team sat around you, so open plan offices can really help you to beat isolation.
So, after all’s said and done, is the open plan office good or bad? As you might expect, we’re going to say it’s neither! Open plan offices have distinct advantages and drawbacks, just as closed plan offices have advantages and drawbacks, and that’s why we’d argue that you need elements of both designs in order to really create a space that works for your office.
At Officescape, we can create just such a personalised and innovative office layout, meaning that you’ll have a workplace that really ticks all of the boxes. If you’d like to find out more information about our office design and refit services, be sure to give us a call on +44 (0)1553 811 833 or get in touch using our online form today.