Open-plan offices seem to be here to stay, as years and years of architects, designers and business owners have seen the allure of the promises that open-plan offices bring. Collaboration, inspiration, team-work, camaraderie… all alongside less cost to the business from designs and fitouts.
If a 2010 business study reported that 68% of people worked in offices with low to no walls, the number has undoubtedly increased now as we near 2020. As many high-profile IT companies (like Facebook and Google) have posted their beautiful open-plan offices alongside their meteoric success. Why wouldn’t a business owner want to emulate that sort of success?
However, this magical success just didn’t happen to everybody. According to a 2018 Harvard Business School study, open plan offices decreased face to face interactions by 70% while simultaneously increasing email messaging by around 50%, proving that forcing people into interaction may lead them to retreat even more into their tech. Additionally, health hand performance can take a dive in open-plan offices, as employees also ask for more sick-leave. Privacy is gone, and personal bubbles are popped as noise, distraction, and intrusions of personal space decrease job satisfaction, work relations and work engagement.
It’s simple – people are undoubtedly distracting when someone just wants to focus on the job and get their deadlines finished.
But open-plan offices aren’t leaving anytime soon. Cubicles are a design choice of the past, while break-out spaces are extremely important. Few companies want to be old-fashioned, restrictive and suffocating. So, what can we do?
First is to dispense with the thought of a one-size-fits-all approach for open-plan offices. All businesses have different cultures and needs, and that should be reflected in your choice of fitout and approach to designing the office.
Open-Plan Office Middle-Ground
Shelling out for a more expensive fitout from avoiding a completely open-plan office might be something of reluctance but creating a middle-ground in your office can help your office become productive.
For example, bringing in flexibility by providing several different types of spaces is a good start to empowering your employees. Your worker’s needs might change by their project, so providing open gathering spaces, flexible private rooms, pods, telephone booths, green areas, a kitchen – all of these enable you to provide your workers with the environment they need to be the best they can be.
Although building-works and fitouts can be a great one-time expense, doing this one step well can help your costs later. Staff costs are always the most expensive in any company in the long run. Keeping your employees happy, productive, and satisfied with a good office-experience is just another way to future-proof your business.
Additionally, traditional spaces like large conference rooms can be rethought. Many open-plan offices have gotten rid of private offices. This can help company spirit, of course, by bringing down barriers and letting the different levels of management open to all the workers on the floor.
However, this has also created a need to create smaller, private conference rooms when managers need to talk to employees one on one. Having a good designer and fitout specialist that identifies these needs is a great step to creating the best productive modern office.
Open-plan offices don’t need to be an employee’s worst nightmare if the fitout and design were reactive and sensitive enough to your business needs. Your office is one of the most important investments of all, when in business. It’s the brain and core of your whole operation. So, make sure to allow you, and your employees, to work in the best way possible in an office that truly suits what you need to succeed.