open plan office design

16 Feb

The advantages and disadvantages of open plan office design

The first open plan office design was implemented around 1970 and even today, this style of office design is still being introduced into companies. As a result, businesses, managers and staff are often experiencing ‘teething problems.’  There are many media reports and articles out there both honouring and criticising open plan offices. So what is the truth?

Like with all subjects there are pros and cons.  Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the open plan office design.

Advantages of open plan office designs

  • Office designs with no walls or partitions will result in more communication and interaction between staff, managers and shareholders

  • With increased communication comes increased collaboration, often extremely innovative ideas can be created from very surprising, impromptu collaborations, which can drive business forward

  • Open plan offices also helps creates an atmosphere of teamwork and keep employees motivated, inspired and happy

  • Small questions can be answered more efficiently without the formality of arranging meetings or  physically walking to other offices

  • There are large savings that can be made from having open plan offices, including the cost of heating, air conditioning and ventilation.

  • Sharing resources and facilities such as photo copiers, printers etc. is also a huge saving

  • Without walls or divisions this means that more space can be utilised for workstations giving the company more return on investment in space

  • Also the flow of light is improved in open plan offices saving electricity costs and capital expenditures

  • Open plan offices designs offer a blank canvass so the office can also be easily be redesigned or the furniture reconfigured as the company expands

  • Another important advantage is that staff can pick up valuable methods off each other, (sometimes subconsciously) for example if one member of staff is particularly successful on the phone, colleagues around him or her can pick up useful tips

  • Open plan office designs also create a transparent environment, this is important amongst staff and can add value by increasing the brands integrity

Disadvantages of open plan office designs

  • Noise is often an issue in open plan offices, in particularly call centres type businesses

  • Noise can then lead to staff becoming distracted and less productive to the company due to lack of focus on their work

  • With increased interaction some staff may feel as if they are being hassled

  • Increased transparency does also mean that private conversations and phone calls can be over heard and computer screens can be read easily

  • Sickness and viruses can be spread more easily throughout the offices

  • Each staff has his or her own preferences in particular temperature, issues can arise where the office is too cold for some and too hot for others

As a decision maker you need to establish whether an open plan office design would suit your business model bearing in mind these advantages and disadvantages and how they relate to the following elements:

  • Business model

  • Brand

  • Return on investment

  • Management structure

  • Office building

  • Budget

Officeinsight can assist you in making this decision by creating inspiring and functional open plan office designs, contact us today on 0161 233 0030.

For more information on office design read our office design guide here.

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