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Open Plan Office Spaces

Moving into new office space is both exciting and challenging especially when it comes to configuring your new space. For small companies with only a handful of employees working for the company, an open plan makes the most sense. Without the need to divide the space into individual offices, business owners can save a significant amount of money while taking advantage of the positives associated with open plan office space arrangements. However, with any positives there are also negatives to consider as well as their solutions. An examination of these issues better equips business owners considering open plan office spaces.

Open plan office spaces are more economical and versatile. When you don’t need to divide the space, you have less dead space and more room to house more employees as your business grows. With fewer internal walls blocking out natural light, lighting the office is also easier. And when you don’t have to heat or cool individual offices, your energy bills are less.

Communication and team spirit is also improved with open plan office space because there are no doors, glass walls or partitions hindering communication and productivity. It’s much easier for employees to communicate with each other in the same room than it is for employees who have to leave their work at their desk and walk to another cubicle in order to communicate with a co-worker. Open plan office space also allows departments to form “pods” with their desks, allowing better supervision from managers as well as easier communication and information flow.

With an open plan office you don’t need to hire contractors to tear down walls to rearrange office layouts. This is especially advantageous when new employees join the team or when you need to move two departments closer together. Open plan offices mean your team has fewer interruptions when departments or employees’ desks must be reconfigured.

Open plan offices also have less emphasis on the traditional hierarchical company structure as all employees are working in the same room no matter what their position with the company. When management offices are separated from the rest of the work force in your office, ad hoc conversations are stifled which could have benefitted the business.

While there are advantages to open plan office space, there are disadvantages too. For some employees an open plan office space can be distracting, especially with all the noise that’s generated from multiple conversations, fax machines, group meetings and ringing telephones. An open plan office space would not be conducive for a call center. And just as noise spreads throughout a room, the same can be said for colds and the flu. Winter months can bring small businesses to a crawl with many of their workforce out sick.

Privacy is also an issue for employees who don’t have their own offices. Content on computer screens is more highly visible and phone conversations are more easily overheard. This is why many small businesses have opted for receptionist style desks, creating a buffer and some sense of privacy around an employee’s workspace. It’s also why desks with drawers that lock are required when it comes to keeping confidential materials unavailable for general view.

Weighing the positives and negatives of open plan office spaces will better equip you to configure your new office space in a way that works best for your business. A configuration that promotes communication and keeps employees motivated and happy should be the goal.