Open plan workplaces have been on trend for many years, whilst closed plan or cubicle style work is often seen to be outdated. There’s research out there to support whichever argument you want to win, so rather than tell you which solution for your business is ‘best’, we thought we’d share some of the pros and cons we’ve experienced!
With an open plan workspace, privacy does become more challenging. Inevitably, people walk away from their desks for phone calls and conversations. Those that don’t can frustrate others for not considering those who prefer peace and quiet whilst they work.
A closed plan office does allow for improved privacy; however, it doesn’t translate well for collaboration and inclusiveness. If there are multiple members of teams who need to regularly communicate and collaborate, having a space where they are encouraged to speak face to face, such as a boardroom or other meeting space can make their work more effective.
Personalising an open place workspace can be challenging, especially if ‘hot desking’ is also encouraged. Some employees love having pictures of their family on their desk, sitting in ‘one particular place’ or having the air conditioner temperature set to their preferred comfort level. Managing this in an open plan office can be quite challenging.
Productivity tends to be a major factor that employers are concerned about when it comes to an open plan workplace. There are arguments for both such as increased productivity, due to fewer communication barriers, and against, due to multiple distractions from other people in the workplace. Understanding HOW and WHY people work in your company can help in making the best decision for productivity. For example, people in data processing roles may not need to collaborate and consult with others as much as a sales and marketing team may need to.
Another important aspect to consider is job satisfaction. This can be influenced by many factors, such as productivity and effectiveness, as well as relationships with colleagues. Often job satisfaction ‘requirements’ will be varied between every individual which means catering to this via workplace design alone is extremely challenging.
The direct costs of creating and maintaining closed plan offices tend to be more expensive. Cubicle dividers, walls and the additional space required can all add up. The indirect costs of either option can vary greatly, from greater likelihood to be exposed to cold and flu, through to heating and cooling management.
Although we expect to see open place offices continue, creating spaces for people to work in private, or with a group without causing a distraction, provides a good balance for most workplace needs. What do you think?
Workplace Central are workforce management specialists, helping Australian businesses with all their employment-related needs. Contact us today to find out more.