In the quest to improve the workplace environment, it is possible that you will come across the concept of having an open plan office. Breaking away from traditional designs, an open office plan is supposed to not only improve the office environment, but it also boosts productivity, encourages interaction and boosts productivity.
On the other hand, you will also come across people who describe having an open office plan as the bane of their productivity. For them, adopting an open office plan is a decision that they have come to regret. Despite this factor, around 70% of U.S offices have open office plans for their employees.
If you’re truly considering getting an open plan office, it is a good idea to consider both the pros and the cons involved here:
The most attractive thing about open plan offices for employers is that they get to save money. With large shared desks, shared equipment such as printers and no need to get cubicles, they are able to house more employees in their building with ease. Maintenance costs associated with it are also reduced in this manner.
Collaboration between employees is improved due to a sense of community which in turn improves productivity. It also helps to break barriers, encourage sharing of ideas as well as boosting collaborative efforts on a project. It also encourages proper sharing of resources and offers new candidates a chance to learn from their senior ones in a friendlier, laid-back environment.
Open offices can be very noisy and distracting places. From conversations to ringing phones and coffee breaks and more, employees can be distracted by the overall noise produced. Even annoying background sounds can impact the cognitive abilities of the employees and make it harder for them to concentrate and finish their work properly.
Increased Stress and Absenteeism
The sudden sensory overload that can be caused by open plan offices can cause an increase in stress levels. This can then translate itself into stress related problems that not only affect productivity levels, it also increases absenteeism. In fact, data shows that on average, employees from office plans are absent 62% more than employees in traditional offices.
Finding the Right Balance
Not every worker is going to be able to be productive in an open office environment. So, if cubicles are bad and open offices are bad, what office plan actually works? Try to find a balance. Just look at Google, Microsoft and Apple. They have open office plans that offer their employees collaborative areas where they can meet and brainstorm as well as work bays, alcoves and more where employees can go to process and work on the project based on their own working style.
This allows more flexibility for the workers and provides break areas where someone who is getting distracted can go and work with ease. The most important factor though is to focus on creating a work environment and culture that focuses on valuing employees, makes executives approachable and also incorporates flexibility in working styles.
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