While open offices can promote collaboration and creativity, they can also lead to distractions and a lack of privacy. It’s essential to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks before deciding if an open office is right for a workplace.
The trend that many businesses relate to their success is tearing down cubicle walls and getting employees out of their individual offices. Community, collaboration, and inclusion are often emphasized.
According to them, an organization will function more effectively and cohesively if barriers are broken down and people are brought together. At least, that is the idea.
Let’s look at how an open office fares in different aspects of office management and life.
The saying “teamwork makes the dream work” is well known because it encourages collaboration. Since employees can’t hide in the shadows of their cubicles, open office layouts promote teamwork. Employees can interact and join forces in a natural and effortless way thanks to communal workspaces. Teams can reduce the number of unnecessary meetings by communicating frequently throughout the day.
Sounds pretty obvious, right? Well, the numbers show us a different picture.
There was a study conducted at an unnamed Fortune 500 company’s offices. Its employees wore badges with people analytics, which used sensors to track conversations and provide data to researchers who then compared it to shifts in online communication.
The researchers discovered that after the open office redesign, email and instant messaging (IM) conversations significantly increased rather than communication and collaboration. The majority of employees reported less face-to-face interaction, and their overall productivity suffered. Employees had been meeting face-to-face for roughly 5.8 hours per person over a three-week period prior to the change to the open office plan. After the redesign, that time decreased to 1.7 hours, with participants engaging in face-to-face communication for 72% less time.
In general, open office layouts are less expensive than traditional ones. Less money is spent on pricey construction and dividers.
More money is consequently available for supplies and other necessities like equipment. Many startup companies and even some large corporations and enterprises are choosing to rent fully furnished open office plans from professional service providers because of the advantages they offer. An open office layout saves money, it allows to put that money to work growing a business.
Another overlooked victim of open office layouts is privacy. Physical and psychological privacy are closely related, and studies have found a connection between privacy and job satisfaction.
Another aspect of this is control. Your private space is one where you have control over the sounds, lights, and temperatures—all of which have an impact on your happiness and general well-being.
Additionally, privacy actually fosters greater creativity because it increases the likelihood that someone will enter a state of flow. For many people, interruptions—which are frequently connected with open offices—kill their creativity.
Additionally, many tasks are best completed in private. This is particularly true for creative work, which may, quite frankly, just require some idle thinking.
And doing ‘nothing’ might seem like slacking off to others.
Then again, going back to working in closed-off spaces, depressing cubicles, and poorly-lit rooms can not be an option.
Maybe companies need custom-made solutions that combine the progressive ideas of open-office environment without the feeling of crowdedness.
There can be a compromise between an open and closed layout.
Arrangements can be made for open seats for coffee breaks or seating clusters for collaboration with standing and sitting workstations. This allows for some aspects of an open office concept and gives the closed office concept flexibility by including spaces for private tasks like meetings and phone calls.
As a result, team communication can be maintained while allowing for privacy when necessary.