Open-plan Office Layout: Are the Cons Outweighing the Pros?

An open-plan office layout has both advantages and disadvantages for a company’s human resources and its bottom line. In an open-plan work environment, there are no divergent rooms or fully enclosed spaces. Instead, workstations are located together. At times panels within a floor plan separate them. The openness may perk up communication and teamwork amongst employees. However on the other hand, it can reduce attentiveness and output.

Since past years, the office layouts have moved from private, to open-plan and recently - no desk at all. These modifications have been driven concurrently leverage real estate cost and also increase alliance among colleagues. Whilst reserves in real estate costs appear to accomplish, the unconstructive effects of the open-plan work environment have now been familiar.

Open-plan Office LayoutResearch claims that open-plan office layouts are noisier. Furthermore workers face complexities in focusing and hold private conversations. The pledge of better collaboration in open-plan layouts appears to have little confirmation to hold the idea.

Open-plan Office Layout: Pros VS. Cons

Despite their popularity, open-plan office layouts generate colossal problems. Unsurprisingly the cons of an open-plan office layout are far greater than its pros. A recent study found that efficiency and individual peace of mind distracts in an open workplace. Although there appears to be a growing understanding of the unhelpful effects, the results reveal that few companies have effective strategies in place to address the problems.

Another research states that in shared working spaces there are increases in employee social liabilities. These liabilities are mainly diversions, lack of assistance, distrust and negative relationships. Furthermore, both coworker friendships and discernment of supervisor support worsen.

Although prior research claims that shared workspaces can improvise social support, communication and cooperation, the result of this survey signified that coworker friendships are of the lowly quality in open-plan work environment. This especially when compared to those with their own offices or who share offices with just one or two members.

Nevertheless, the extent of collaboration in an open-plan workspace may result in business improvement and expansion. However, many other factors prove disadvantageous for personnel and detrimental to business on the whole. The distractions that generates due to interactions among personnel and noisy background can result in lesser productivity.

Lack of physical barriers in open-plan office layout makes it easier for workers to communicate with each other regularly. On the contrary, the high level of everyday communication that takes place in an entire workspace may generate difficult distractions. Lack of seclusion is another impending problem with open-plan office layout. Work screens are easily visible by those walking by and conversations can be noticeable.

Researchers Pitt and Bennett proclaim that this conventional open-plan office layout must be redesigned to comprise hot-desking and touchdown areas. Furthermore bookable offices, collaborative workspaces and breakout workspaces will takeover the market.

The Next-Gen Office Is Here

Nevertheless there is no facilitation of workers to have endless privacy and solitude. Some impulsive interface is significant for work to succeed. However, too much will outweigh any potential collaborative benefits.

The next-gen office can mix private offices, cubicle banks and genuine open floor office layouts and other mutual areas and soundproof rooms where workers can go to concentrate on solo work.

The ultimate result can be a hybrid office, which features an array of layouts and allot employees the autonomy to tweak around.

4 Responses

  1. @christophishere

    Hi Anna,

    I would like to go with cons like you suggest in the article. It’s true that open-plan layout might work well for a few people, but similar to what studies suggest, it doesn’t work for a majority of people. I used to work in an office having such open-plan. Well, in beginning it looks all good as you can talk to your colleagues non-stop and pass your time looking around when you’re bored, but at one point it becomes a source of distraction. I personally feel that I’m at my productive best when I sit in a closed cubicle surrounded by lots of post-it notes and files. They give me a sense of responsibility and a little pressure to complete the task. Similar to how I used to study when I was a kid with my mother sitting right next to me, I feel the post-it notes serve as a constant reminder of To-Dos. I can talk as much as I want to with my colleagues whenever I feel like taking a break, but once I’m on my desk, I should see nothing else but my work goals. This is what I feel. Open-space may do wonders, but I’m not the one who is ought to benefit from it.

  2. Bryan

    I agree with what @christophishere just stated above. I feel the same in open space layout. For me, the closed cubicle works the best. In fact, I’m at my productive best and stay highly focused when I am working inside my enclosed cubicle with nothing to divert my attention.

  3. @soitseems

    I think open space is not bad. I mean my office has an open plan and quite frankly I enjoy working that way. As far as distractions are concerned, I haven’t been subjected to one so far. So I’d say it’s a good one. I can concentrate on my work and also solve work related issues with my colleagues without the necessity of moving around my desk.


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