The Open Office Floor Plan: Pros & Cons

Current workplace trends are moving away from traditional closed-door offices. Innovative businesses are now embracing an open office floor plan. This also includes senior management at many large companies, like Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. Hastings gave up his private office for a more collaborative workplace. Which is what an open office floor plan provides.

So, is an open office floor plan the way of the future? The verdict is still out.

Gensler believes that employees in an open office layout are as productive as those in private offices. But they have extra benefits such as greater creativity, collaboration, and cost savings.

Yet, the Royal Society Publishing has an opposing view. Their view is that removing walls, doors and other spatial boundaries reduces face-to-face interaction by up to 70%.  

With mixed results, what are the pros and cons of an open office floor plan?

Open Office Floor Plan Pros:

Open office floor plans have been designed to break down the wall! Their goal is to create a workplace which is collaborative. As well as one which is innovative and fosters increased communication.

They also provide extra pros which include:

Teamwork: Working next to your team members can help to increase teamwork.

Flexibility: An open floor plan is future-proofed. It can accommodate your company as it grows.

More Natural Light: With fewer walls, it invites more natural light into a workspace. This is known to improve the health of employees. It’s time to say bye bye to fluorescent lights!

Cost Savings: Having an open office floor plan means there is less equipment costs and construction work required. By avoiding more intensive construction and its additional costs, your office budget can be used on improving other areas of your space.

Open Office Floor Plan Cons:

While the pros of open office floor plans seem great, there are also some cons which you should consider.

Distractions: An open office floor plan creates a lot of noise and continuous disruptions. This can lead to employees being less motivated and less productive. Exactly the opposite of why open offices were designed!

No Privacy: Some employees may be uncomfortable working in a space which doesn’t provide privacy. Especially when needing to take phone calls. There are also ethical issues which may arise if confidentiality is compromised.

Health Issues: In an open office environment, germs are easier to spread. If someone comes to work when they are sick, there is a greater chance that they pass on their illness to more employees. This can increase the number of staff absences.

Creating A Balanced Open Office Space

With open office spaces having both pros and cons, which one is right for your office? Gensler did a survey of workplaces and found that open vs closed workplace environments was unimportant in regards to how well an office performed.

The biggest factor for an effective office is smart design, which met employees needs, rather than the floor type. Most innovative companies tend to foster collaboration in places other than primary workspaces.

To summarise, to create a balanced workplace you should:

– Ask employees for their input

– Design your office plan to be flexible–consult a fitout specialist before you add any permanent fixtures.

– Consider a balance between open, private, and semi-private office spaces

– Create Purpose-built collaboration spaces where noise and discussions have a designated area to come together

– Integrate features to handle noise management. Such as quiet zones and sound-proof telephone booths