Open plan offices are extremely common. From startups to global corporations, businesses have moved away from small cubicles and embraced the idea of open plan workspaces. This style of working doesn’t suit every organisation, but there are several important benefits. Let’s take a look at the advantages of open plan offices.
It is relatively cheap to transform a vast open space into a functional working environment when you don’t have to spend time building walls. Partitions can be used to subdivide areas and structural beams covered with bulkheads.
Resources such as printers and scanners can be shared more easily in an open plan office space. Instead of buying a printer for each office, a company can rent a large printer and install it in a central location.
When budget is an issue, and you don’t have the cash to spend creating a series of bespoke rooms, open plan is the way forward.
Open plan offices are appealing to senior management because they make a company look modern. A sweeping shot of diligent employees scurrying around like busy worker ants looks great on marketing literature.
Arguably the greatest benefit of open plan offices – and the main reason why this style of working is so popular – is the innate flexibility of the design. A traditional workspace layout with small cubicles and separate offices doesn’t cope so well when you have a sudden influx of new employees. You are limited by the number of rooms within the building, which makes it harder to squeeze in extra desks.
Open plan office layouts are highly flexible. Desks can be moved around, partition walls erected or moved to suit the needs of the organisation, and hot desking remote workers accommodated.
It is far easier to collaborate with colleagues when they are sitting a few desks away in your line of sight. An open plan office encourages collaboration and brainstorming. You can hold an impromptu meeting without moving to a different room, or help a colleague without moving from your desk. For tech and creative businesses, this is a great productivity boost.
It is also a lot easier to monitor worker productivity when they are in full view of management. Employees can’t take an afternoon nap on the sly or watch inappropriate material on their company PC when they are surrounded by colleagues and supervisors.
Not all companies make the happiness of their employees a priority, but an open plan office can work for many companies because it removes social barriers within the workplace. Everybody must share the workspace, no matter how senior they are, which makes people feel more at ease.
Of course, it isn’t all good. There are some disadvantages, most notably acoustic problems. Noise levels can be high in open plan offices, but a suspended ceiling can provide acoustic insulation and help dampen down excessive noise levels. The other issue is that not everyone enjoys working in a goldfish bowl.
For an open plan office to be effective, it needs to be carefully planned to meet exacting standards of employee well-being and ergonomics. Does your open plan office fit the bill?