Open Office Concept: Pros and Cons
Research for the office environment
Research has consistently shown that work environment has a lot of effect on the productivity of employees. Unfortunately there is no perfect, one size fits all, office space plan that works for everyone. Every business needs to experiment and create an office environment that works for their particular needs. So, in an effort to help, we have come up with a pros and cons list for the two most common office plans implemented throughout America. In a two-blog-series, we will be talking about the advantages and disadvantages of open and closed office concepts. So let’s start with the currently popular open office concept.
What is open office?
An open office is an office space plan without enclosed spaces like separate cubicles for each employee, or often even without partitions between workstations. At its most basic form, open offices consist of rows of desks and chairs where employees do their work. But more advanced open office designs use low partitions and surrounding environment to create unique work environments, suited for individual businesses.
Using Sven Christiansen furniture
Easy communication and collaboration
Open offices provide more opportunities for communication and collaboration among the employees. Since you’ve (literally) torn down the walls, it becomes easier for co-workers to interact regularly in an informal setting. Your employees can turn to each other without having to knock on doors or schedule meetings. Information flows more easily via word of mouth as opposed to stuffy emails and official notices. Since all you need to do is stretch your neck muscles a bit to see your co-worker, communication becomes easier and more frequent.
Since your staff members are regularly interacting with each other in the office, it fosters a sense of team spirit among your employees. Everybody knows everybody, so your employees can help or get help from each other more easily. It opens up more avenues for teamwork and encourages a sense of camaraderie among the staff since everybody feels like they’re part of a team.
Optimum use of space
One of the major advantages of open office plan is that it makes the most use of available space. It allows you to spend less of your budget on office space (which is ridiculously expensive in most major cities) and more on other aspects of your business, such as Sven Christiansen office furniture.
Open offices are a lot more egalitarian than traditional office plans. There is no corner office to fight over since everybody works in the same space. The hierarchy is less obvious as your position on the corporate totem pole depends on the work that you put out rather than place where you work. It encourages employees to focus more on their work and less on one-upping their co-workers.
Less slacking off
In an open office, everyone can see what you’re doing. So, you are less likely to slack off or waste time on things that are not related to work. In cubicles, you might get away with constantly scrolling through your Facebook feed or wasting five minutes (or fifty) playing Candy crush. But in an open office, you will be less likely to kill time and more likely to work on office related projects.
All the cool kids are doing it
Nearly 70% of American businesses have an open office plan now. Tech giant Facebook is currently building an open office space to house 2800 engineers. Google, Yahoo, eBay, Goldman Sachs, American Express all have open office plans in their campuses. For all these big businesses to switch to open office space, the concept must be working.
Disadvantages of Open office:
With more people in the same room and no walls in between, it can create a lot of distractions for workers, making them unable to focus on their work. In professions that need a lot of concentration while working, like programmers, QA engineers and workers in creative fields, the quality of the work might suffer due to the frequent interruptions. This will decrease the productivity of the staff and ultimately affect the bottom-line of the company.
Open offices will obviously have less privacy than cubicles or private offices. While it might not have much effect on employers or managers, the general staff will feel a psychological disadvantage due to the lack of visual and auditory privacy. And anything that discomfits an employee will ultimately affect their productivity.
Due to the frequent auditory and visual distractions in an open office, the creativity of the staff might be compromised. Open offices are likely to generate higher stress and decreased concentration among workers due to high levels of noise, constant interruptions and lack of privacy. All these hinder the creative process and create a detrimental effect on a creative team.
A nightmare for introverts
Introverts are believed to make up somewhere between a third to half of the world’s population. For them, an open office plan is their personal version of hell. They are more likely to feel stressed out and insecure in an open office.
As I mentioned before, there is no perfect office space plan that works for everyone. You need to weigh the pros and cons of both plans and decide which one works best for you. Look out for our next blog on closed office space.