There are undoubted benefits of open-plan and closed-plan offices, but which is the better fit for your business? In this guide, we’re going to take you through some of the pros and cons of each to help you determine the right choice for you and your team.
There are a number of compelling benefits associated with open-plan offices. A study of US government employees found that workers in offices with no partitions clocked up 20 percent more physical activity than those in closed-plan offices and were 14 percent less stressed. Given the impact stress and a sedentary lifestyle can have on our health that can only be a good thing. But what else should you consider…
- Open spaces promote collaboration
A study of different workplace designs found that employees in open-plan offices were the most likely of any workers to be involved in spontaneous brainstorming sessions and informal group conversation. The lack of physical barriers facilitates conversation and allows workers to collaborate freely, bounce ideas off one another and ask colleagues for assistance. The result is a greater sense of teamwork and workplace fulfilment.
- It’s cost-effective
The lack of physical barriers means that on the whole, open-plan offices tend to be cheaper when it comes to the initial set-up and maintenance costs. The space can easily be reconfigured as required and adapted to accommodate more staff as you grow. You can also fit more employees into the same size open vs. closed-plan space.
- Employees develop more positive workplace associations
Open-plan offices give workers more freedom to move around and stretch their bodies and their minds. A BMC study revealed that just five minutes of motion every hour can improve employees’ moods, combat exhaustion and even mitigate hunger pangs, all of which can lead to more positive associations with the workplace.
- Loneliness is a crowded room
One study by two Harvard academics found that open-plan offices can actually lead to more closed minds. People value their privacy, so when this is lost they find new ways to preserve it. That drives many employees to shut themselves off by wearing headphones or communicating with colleagues via email rather than having conversations in front of a large audience.
- Noise, distractions and an increased potential for conflict
Everyone works in different ways and while background noise might be well-suited to certain tasks or working styles, it can be a roadblock to productivity for others. Open-plan offices also make it difficult for employees with different personalities to escape one another. That can increase stress and even lead to misunderstandings and conflict.
Undoubtedly the most compelling benefit of a closed-plan office is the privacy it provides. In certain industries such as accountancy and legal work where privacy is essential, a closed-plan layout creates a safe, quiet space which is free from distractions.
- Employees have more control over their workspace
Rather than being subjected to radio stations they hate or idle chitchat about the soaps for eight hours a day, employees can choose how they want to work. They can open a window, put on Classical FM and tailor their environment to meet their personal requirements.
- It reduces the risk of widespread ill-health
Closed-plan offices can reduce the spread of germs and help to prevent multiple employees falling ill at the same time. This type of layout also exposes employees to fewer work-related stress factors, which includes the need to appear constantly busy.
- It’s expensive
Cost is often a leading factor in the open vs closed-plan office discussion and the truth is that enclosed spaces cost more both to build and maintain. You’ll also need a greater amount of floor space to accommodate the same number of employees as the open-plan alternative.
- Lack of supervision
You place a certain amount of trust in employees working in a closed-office environment as they cannot be given the same level of supervision. Employees in their own private space can take regular breaks which can hamper productivity.
Creating engaging spaces for you and your team
At Accent Office Interiors, we create engaging spaces where people love to work, whether this is through our office fit out, interior design, design & builds, office relocation services and much more. We’re happy to discuss the merits of an open vs closed-plan office with you and help you find the perfect solution for you and your business. Take a look at some of our recent projects and get in touch with our team.