Many companies select the open floor plan for their offices in contrast to the old cubicles that used to separate employees in the past. The words “open” and “openness” bring positive connotations and we associate them with positive emotions, free exchange of ideas and a lack of barriers. Such an environment sounds like the best choice for your business, however, make sure that you are aware of all the pros and cons of an open office prior to choosing this work setting for your company.
Whether an open office environment is suitable for you, depends primarily on the type of business that you run. In some cases, privacy is of paramount importance and you need to have your own place in order to be able to concentrate. Imagine that you are a professional writer and you need to deliver a paper within a strict deadline – the last thing you want is a distraction from your colleagues.
On the other hand, if you are a marketer, you need easy access to your colleagues with whom you can share ideas and suggestions. The informal atmosphere of an open office will help your creativity and enhance your productivity.
Here we’re going to take a look at the most common advantages and disadvantages of the open office and decide whether it is the right decision for your company or not.
5 pros of an open office environment
About 70% of of the offices in the United States have an open-floor infrastructure. Some of the positives of such a work environment include:
1. Better communication and networking options
Employees working in an open-plan office have a better opportunity to talk to each other and exchange ideas. They are not separated by walls and barriers, which makes the working environment more welcoming. It is also easier to ask a colleague or your supervisor a question or seek and receive help.
Renting an open-plan office is more cost-effective than investing in separate offices or in building cubicles for each employee. Nowadays it is possible to rent such an office space equipped with all the necessary furniture and even Wi-Fi. You can also accommodate more people in a smaller area, compared to having separate offices for each employee.
3. Flexible setting
An open-plan area can be designed and furnished to accommodate a different number of people and to meet the specific needs of your company. You can be more creative with the décor and even create some space for rest and entertainment. On the other hand, you can change the arrangement of the desks and add a few more when your company grows.
4. Easier supervision
Team leaders or line managers can monitor the performance of employees much easier if they work together in an open-plan office. It is important, however, not to over-exercise this duty.
5. Increased productivity
It’s also worth mentioning that open office environments are viewed as being quite trendy and will generally have good aesthetics, both of which can contribute to the increased productivity levels.
4 cons of an open office environment
Naturally, the open office environment has certain drawbacks as well. Some of the most important that you need to consider are:
1. Lack of privacy
Some people may feel that they are too exposed when working in an open-plan office. Employees may feel that they are constantly being watched, which can make them anxious and impact the quality of their work. In addition to that, individuals cannot make private calls since they risk being overheard. The lack of personal and more private working place may be the reason for people to quit and look for a job elsewhere.
2. Too many distractions
The open office means that you need to work with many colleagues in one place, which can often lead to distractions. You can hear the other people talk – either in person or over the phone – and sometimes it can be too noisy to even hear your own thoughts, let alone the client on the end of the line.
You may also start noticing your co-workers’ bad habits that may become irritating or even prevent you from doing your job efficiently. It can take you more time to focus on the given task compared to the privacy of your own office or even a cubicle.
3. Higher stress levels
As a result of the lack of privacy and the abundance of distractions, employees may start feeling quite stressed. This can also be due to the fact that they feel constantly monitored by their supervisors and peers alike. The open office also limits the possibility for you to filter your work interactions. There might be certain colleagues that you don’t want to communicate with but you still have to share your space with them on a daily basis, which can be frustrating. The potential for conflict arising in such situations is much higher compared to working in separate cubicles or rooms.
4. Paradise for germs and bacteria
The lack of walls allows germs and bacteria to travel much quicker. This means that if one employee comes to work with a cold, there is a bigger chance that it will spread to other colleagues.
Open-plan spaces generally sound attractive and many company owners prefer them, and for good reasons. It’s important to make sure you consider all the possible negatives as well. It’s also a good idea to include some rooms where employees can relax and have some privacy; find the balance between work and establishing a friendly atmosphere when everybody feels validated and productive.