Much has been said in recent years about the open plan office. First of all, it was the latest trend, and employers were encouraged to break down those walls and open up their spaces.
It wasn’t long, though, before people started noticing the disadvantages of open plan working and a slew of internet articles started advising against it.
But what’s the truth about open plan working? Is it all good, all bad, or somewhere in between?
Open plan office designs – what works and what doesn’t
Like most things, designing an open plan office is about finding balance, and in order to achieve that, it’s worth looking at the pros and cons before deciding to tear down those walls.
Easier interaction: In an open plan office, it’s much easier for staff to interact with one another. Closed offices meant that people often only interacted within their own teams. If they had to speak to other members of staff, there was often a feeling of intrusion.
Camaraderie: Regular communication and more chance of ad-hoc conversation mean an increased sense of solidarity and shared goals. Whereas before staff may have been to some extent blinkered by their own team’s goals, more interaction tends to allow people to see a bigger picture.
Collaboration: Cross-team working and sharing ideas and advice becomes easier when teams aren’t separated by walls or partitions. This benefits everyone – staff share advice on best practice and employers find new ways of working.
Creativity: Open plan office spaces lend themselves to more creative approaches to working. When you’re shut in by walls, creativity tends to become stifled, so dropping them means staff tend to be freer to come up with new ideas.
Increased noise: Open plan offices are noisy – there’s no getting around that. With a large number of people engaging in team discussions, phone calls and other activities, the noise becomes amplified.
Distraction: It’s easier to become distracted with what other people are doing in an open plan office, which can mean you lose track of work.
Always available: There can be a tendency for people to view each other as “always available” in an open plan office. With no walls or doors to signal that you’re busy, you may find people approach your desk even when you’re in the middle of a complex task.
Higher absenteeism: Disease spreads further and more easily in an open plan environment than in a closed office set up, so common colds and flu become more of a problem, with increased absenteeism as a result.
What’s the solution?
In order to find the middle ground between open plan and closed office, many employers are now opting for a “hybrid” approach. That is, open-plan working areas with separate, relaxed breakout areas for teams to work on new ideas as well as individually bookable offices that workers can use when they need peace and quiet to concentrate on complex tasks.
This often requires a cultural shift in the workplace – employers need to trust staff to make their own decisions about how they use the space, and become more relaxed about how often people spend at their fixed desks.
Gresham EX10 Office Desks are perfect for a hybrid workspace
If you’re looking to design a new hybrid working environment and you need the perfect furniture to match, consider the Gresham EX10 Office Desks. These stylish and modern designed have classic finishes, resulting in a hybrid feel.
Gresham EX10 Office Desks come with a full range of storage add-ons such as drawer pedestals and come with a massive 10-year guarantee, so these desks represent a worthwhile investment. Check out the range here.