The pros and cons of an open office environment

pros and cons of an open office environment

The desire for collaboration has led many organizations to adopt an open office plan. This approach, which removes walls between workstations and abandons the traditional idea of the "corner office," has merit for many organizations. At the same time, it also has its detractors. The unique nature of your office culture and the work your organization does should always be the ultimate authority on office space planning.

Open office plan: Pro

The opening up of an office space floor plan actually goes back to the '50s, when it was conceived as a way to promote communication and the free exchange of ideas. If your business requires team members to run ideas by each other frequently and answer each other's questions, then an open, collaborative space could be the best option. If you're changing offices and feel like this approach is right for you, you have an ideal opportunity to adopt it early while drafting your office moving plan.

Open office plan: Con

On the flip side, teams that have highly detailed work or are focused on complex tasks like data analysis may need a little more quiet space to be efficient. In a recent study, findings from more than 100 offices were reviewed. The study found that while an open office can promote a sense of mission, and a culture of relaxed yet innovative dynamics, employees found it damaging to their focus and productivity. This is not surprising, as focus and productivity can thrive with privacy. But perhaps most significantly, employees also felt it impaired their creativity—one of the qualities employers seek to foster in open office space plans.

A blended approach

A blended approach that mimics the collaborative, entrepreneurial environment but also provides private space to think, work, or have meetings, has proven ideal for many organizations.

Ask your teams

When it's all said and done, knowing how your teams work together is integral to having the most productive workplace possible. An effective way to determine the best environment is by conducting an employee survey. Employees will need to feel comfortable being honest, so an anonymous survey may be the way to go. If you'll be entering a new space, conducting these surveys before designing your office moving plan is a good idea.

What to do with empty space

The best time to consider your ideal balance between collaboration and privacy is while drafting your office moving plan. Looking at your employee survey results can help you consider how much collaboration vs. private space you'll need, and what your goals are.

Open office space plans are still a trend after many decades, and the latest age of entrepreneurship has made it seem like something new. The most productive possible workspace environment is one that truly reflects the culture of your organization and the way you produce your work.

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