Is an Open Plan Office Right for You?

Open plan offices are probably one of the most contentious subjects in office design.  Everyone seems to have a strong opinion on whether an office should be open plan or a more traditional design.  The evidence is mixed on which office plan type is better for productivity. Some businesses claim open plan offices drastically increase communication and collaboration, while others claim exactly the opposite.  Open plan is less expensive, but some studies show it may make employees sick. For every pro, there is a con. But the debate doesn’t have to be between open plan or traditional.  A flexible, well-designed space can incorporate elements of traditional offices as well as open plan. Here are some things to consider when deciding how open plan your space should be:

  • Confidentiality.  Open plan offices are difficult for industries that rely on confidentiality.  For example, healthcare and legal businesses need private spaces for employees to discuss sensitive matters.
  • Communication.  Again, results are mixed on whether communication improves with open plan offices.  So consider the types of communication you want for your office. Industries where employees need to be creative, like marketing, may benefit from the type of communication and collaboration promoted by open plan.
  • Cost.  Open plan offices cost less than traditional office spaces.
  • Flexibility.  While most research shows two sides to the debate, the reality doesn’t have to be black and white.  A space with an open plan that incorporates traditional office elements is possible. Flexibility in a space works for many offices, and it’s something an experienced office design company can bring to the table. 

Designing a workspace can be daunting.  People react to the environment around them. The right design can increase productivity, foster good communication, and improve well-being.  For help deciding between open plan, traditional, or somewhere in between, contact us.