What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages Of An Open Plan Layout?

17-09-2015

When deciding how to approach an office refurbishment, one of the first decisions is whether to have an open plan or cellular office layout. There are both pros and cons to an open plan layout and we consider these below to help you decide what layout would suit the needs of your company and staff.

Advantages of an open plan office space

Cost Effectiveness

With no partitioning or cubicles, there is more room to house employees, and this in turn means that the office is more energy efficient and could save on heating and electricity bills. This is because there is only one space to heat and there is more natural light entering the office due to fewer internal walls. Another reason why an open plan office space is more cost effective is because communal space promotes sharing of resources, such as printers, copiers, coffee machines and other items.

Liberata

Improved Communication And Morale

Without closed doors or dividing walls, team spirit and companionship can flow freely within the office which can result in a happier workforce and better internal communication. Team spirit naturally grows stronger as it becomes easier to ask neighbouring colleagues for help and advice, and being together in the same office helps to build professional and personal relationships between staff. Employees can also be arranged into departmental sections within the office making it easier for managers to supervise and convey information to their department.

Increased Flexibility

An open plan office is far more flexible to changes in layout and better at accommodating any necessary changes. For example moving desks around is far quicker in an open plan space than in a partitioned office where you may have to navigate desks through doorways.  Also, if a department requires more space to fit additional staff, desks can be added or moved to accommodate this without being limited by walls or dividing partitions.

Integral

Better Supervision

An open plan office space means that all staff are in one area and not spread out between separate offices and cubicles, making it much easier for managers to supervise staff.  Also managers are in constant contact with the staff and this improves the flow of information within the company, ensuring that everyone knows what is happening. It also becomes easier to discuss ideas, delegate and carry out tasks when everyone is close together. This should help jobs to be performed more efficiently with hopefully less supervision required in the long term.

Disadvantages of an open plan office space

Distractions

Due to the amount of people in one room, open plan offices can become very noisy. Multiple phone conversations, ad-hoc meetings and ringing phones can create a loud environment which is not conducive to productive work, and makes concentration difficult for employees. This could be particularly problematic when staff members need or prefer a quiet atmosphere in order to work. It is also easy to get distracted by the person at the desk next to you or by someone walking past and this can leave staff members very unfocused and therefore more likely to make mistakes.

Lack Of Privacy

There are many situations that may occur in your office that require a measure of privacy, such as calls or meetings with clients and customers, discussions about confidential company matters or even a private call from a family member. In an open plan office, it is very difficult to achieve this privacy as conversations can be overheard easier and computer screens can be seen by other members of staff. Therefore, members of staff who deal with confidential information on a daily basis should have some form of cubicle or separate office to ensure that confidential information cannot be seen or heard by other employees.

Coalition

Spread Of Illness

In the same way that noise can spread through a room, so can germs, and this can potentially be very damaging to businesses. In the winter months, you may expect your staff to take more sick days than they would in a partitioned office due to coughs and colds spreading. This is especially likely to happen in an open plan office or those using hot desks where employees are sharing keyboards, phones and stationery.

Personal Preferences

It is hard to please everyone in an open plan office. When it comes to lighting, air conditioning and heating, everyone has their own personal preferences and it would be difficult to keep everyone satisfied at the same time. In a partitioned office however, employees can tailor the lighting and heating in their offices to their own preferences. Another problem that may arise is that senior employees might feel they are entitled to their own private office due to the fact they have been with the company longer than others or due to their job title. This can cause friction between employees and this can damage both relationships and productivity if members of staff are unhappy.

We hope that this article has helped you understand the main advantages and disadvantages of an open plan office layout.  Space planning can greatly help in the creation of an efficient and productive office space, whether you choose to go with an open plan layout or not.  To speak to one of our space planning experts, or to see how we can help with your office project, please call us on 020 8770 7077 or email us at [email protected].

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