When it comes to office planning and design, open plan layouts are becoming increasingly popular in the modern workplace. Companies are moving away from the traditional model of enclosed, private rooms and segregated cubicles, with a significant shift towards implementing larger, multi-purpose workspaces. Despite the growing trend, there are pros and cons associated with this design. The challenge for the office manager is to assess the benefits and drawbacks in order to determine whether or not this approach is suitable for the business.
Advantages of an open plan office layout
By eliminating physical boundaries such as walls, doors and other partitions, an open-plan office promotes the flow of communication among employees. Proximity of other staff members allows for minor issues or queries to be dealt with efficiently, without the need for a formal meeting. Naturally, this will result in increased interactions which can lead to improved team morale.
Open plan allows companies to create a collaborative working environment where new ideas can be generated and shared. This is particularly beneficial for businesses or departments which require a lot of creativity, brainstorming or planning. An open, flexible workspace facilitates improved problem-solving and general decision-making. Additionally, colleagues can learn new insights and tips from experienced staff to improve workflow.
Of course, one of the greatest benefits to note here is how cost-effective this approach can be. Improved accessibility allows various departments to share resources such as printers, copiers, communal office supplies and more. Furthermore, there may be reduced costs in utilities such as light, heat and ventilation thanks to a consolidated workspace.
An open plan is a highly flexible solution that caters to the ever-changing working environment. As operations expand, staff numbers grow and organisational structure changes, an open plan layout is a lot more dynamic and easier to adjust in order to meet the needs of a business. For example, more space can be utilised by contemporary Open Plan Modular Bench System which can incorporate add-on worktops as required.
Furthermore, an open office allows management to oversee performance across multiple departments, leading to greater scope for supervision.
Disadvantages of an open plan office layout
While there are many benefits associated with open plan design, it is also important to consider the potential pitfalls. While improved communication can be a definite plus, increased interactions can potentially create a noisy working environment. Employees who prefer to work in a quiet atmosphere may be distracted and find it difficult to concentrate on tasks.
Additionally, employees may find that their privacy is compromised when working in close proximity to colleagues. This could pose problems for workers engaging in phone calls, conference calls or informal face-to-face meetings.
Another disadvantage to highlight is the potential for sickness or viruses to spread around the office, resulting in reduced productivity and potentially a loss of workdays.
Ultimately a combination of these ‘cons’ could be detrimental to staff morale, resulting in poor employee relations.
Factors to consider…
Considering the advantages and disadvantages, it is important to bear in mind how an open plan office layout will impact your particular company. Before a decision is made, here are some additional questions that should be asked:
- Does open plan suit my business model?
- What are the space constraints within the office building?
- What are the preferred working styles of my employees?
- What is our budget?
- How would open plan affect the organisational structure?
Finding a solution
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to office planning and design. While there are distinct pros and cons associated with open plan offices, whether or not it is the best approach for you will depend on your particular business. However if you do decide to opt for open plan, there are some ways to minimise the potential risks and pitfalls outlined above.
Privacy is a common concern among employees in an open workspace. Thankfully, there are some ways to improve the personal space of office workers. Free-standing Screens and desk panels can help to divide worktops by creating a partition between employees. These screens are available in a wide selection of colours and sizes to suit your office interior or brand. In addition, storage and cable management solutions help to maintain a tidy, personal workstation.
Breakout areas provide individuals with personal space to relax and take time out from the busy office. More and more companies are realising the value of funky breakout areas which incorporate stylish soft seating in a range of contemporary designs.
While a spacious, multifunctional office may be appropriate at an operational level, there is often still a requirement for private, enclosed spaces. Particularly at a senior management level, the boardroom will remain a crucial feature of any office layout. For less formal situations, meeting pods provide a unique space for meetings and team huddles. Incorporating these spaces into the overall office design helps to address some of the perceived privacy and noise distraction pain points.
Is open plan for me?
Arguably, open plan is the way forward in contemporary office design. It makes economic sense for business and, despite certain concerns, provides a host of potential benefits for employees. Here at Radius Office, we offer a comprehensive office planning service and premium office furniture at competitive prices.
To find out more about implementing an open plan layout in your office, contact one of our experts today.