As your business grows, changes and adapts, so does your office. When it comes time to consider a new office design, the first decision you need to make is whether you want an open plan or closed office.
So which one should you choose?
The Case for Open Plan Offices
An open plan office is usually one large open work area with minimal to no divisions between workstations. Although an open plan office is appealing to some, it also isn’t for everyone, so we have broken down the key reasons why a business may decide to choose this option.
Collaborative Work Environment
If your workplace thrives on collaboration, co-operation and regular group discussions, an open plan office is ideal to allow creativity and conversation to flourish. When people need to work together to get things done, having every member of that team right there in the same space makes it much easier to share thoughts and ideas on the fly.
Because everyone works in the one area, communication in an open plan office tends to be better. Everyone is right there within earshot when any important work information is being shared, ensuring everyone is in the loop and knows exactly what is going on in the workplace at any given time. An office that communicates well is an effective and informed office!
If your business is looking for a low-cost renovation job, an open plan office is usually the easiest and cheapest option. No extra dividers, walls or rooms are needed.
It’s far more economical to have more employees in less space comfortably and the best way to achieve this is usually with an open plan office.
Not only will you save on fitout costs, but you can also expect energy savings too with reduced electricity, heating and cooling expenses. You may even reduce office equipment costs, making it much easier for staff to share office supplies such as printers and copiers.
The Case for Closed Offices
A closed office involves deliberately dividing workspaces and/or departments within a workplace. The office is segmented with partitions, dividing walls and even rooms.
Although open plan offices may sound great, for many businesses this layout isn’t very practical. Here are some reasons why you may want to opt for a closed office at your workplace.
Improved Focus and Productivity
If a lot of focus is required at your place of work, whether it be working on sensitive projects or tasks that require a high level of detail, privacy may be needed so the job is done right. A closed office also means fewer distractions from fellow employees and fewer noise disruptions.
Some employees really appreciate having privacy while working and don’t appreciate having fellow employees encroaching on their space. If employees (especially those in management roles) have their own private area or room to work in, that means they don’t need to duck off into another room to take a call or have a meeting with clients or employees.
Personalisation and Creativity
When staff have their own private cubicle or space to work in, they have the freedom to personalise their office space. A little bit of self-expression can go a long way, fostering creativity and positivity in the workplace. Clever and creative thought also thrives when employees have privacy, giving them the ability to think internally without external distractions.
Reduce the Spread of Germs
The biggest killer to office productivity is the spread of germs, resulting in more and more employees taking sick leave. Sickness tends to spread fast in open offices. You can limit and stop the spread of illness in its tracks with separate office spaces. Bugs will usually stay in the cubicle or room and will not spread to other employees.
Want the Best of Both Worlds? – Activity-Based Working
You can create a hybrid environment that incorporates elements of both open plan and closed offices, thanks to activity-based working.
Activity-based working is a new way to work that’s spreading across the globe, and it’s all about creating ideal workspaces for each activity that needs to be completed in the workplace. With dedicated facilities for specific activities, activity-based working is designed to foster an environment for collaboration.
In an office designed with activity-based working in mind, there are no assigned desks and staff can instead choose where they want to work each day. Instead of being open or closed, the environment created is agile, making it easier for workers in different departments to come together on projects and perform specific tasks.
A Harvard Business Review article shows that the best of both worlds is the best scenario for many businesses, stating that the most successful work environments have a range of spaces – allowing people to choose where and how they get their job done.
Check out this video to find out more about activity-based working and how it can be incorporated into an open plan office.
It’s the flexibility that makes the difference and how this open/closed fitout hybrid will turn out in your space will really depend on your organisation, staff and the tasks you need to achieve. If this is an interior design option you would like to explore, contact our team at Future Fitout today to find out more.