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Will an open plan office suit my business?

Open plan offices make use of large, open spaces, and minimise the use of small enclosed rooms. Open plan offices have been adopted by 70% of employers on the premise that the lack of barriers between employees encourages interaction and collaboration. Open plan offices have the following advantages:

  • Lower rent costs per employee – as employee density per square metre is increased.
  • Lower fit-outs costs – with no walls and cubicles fit-out costs are 20% lower.
  • Reduced electricity costs – heating and cooling costs are lower due to improved flow of air and light.
  • Reduced office equipment expenses – as printers and copiers are more easily shared.
  • Easier layout changes.

The disadvantages of open plan offices are:

  • Employees spend 73% less time in face-to-face interactions – studies show reduced employee interaction and collaboration.
  • Employees email and messaging use increase 67% ie. more emailing, less talking.
  • Reduced employee concentration due to noise and distractions leads to reduced employee productivity.
  • Lack of privacy.

Implementation process:

  • Consider what performance outcomes your business would like to encourage – as this determines the type of areas your employees will require.
  • Include a range of multi-function areas – i.e. privacy booths, open spaces with flexible seating, meeting rooms, etc.
  • Locate teams with similar needs together.
  • Consider the acoustics of the office – too much noise is the top complaint from employees.
  • Don’t squeeze the desk-to-people ratios too tightly.
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