The Advantages of Open Plan Offices

House interior design image by Aleksandar Radovanovic from Fotolia.com

With many companies wanting to facilitate teamwork and increase productivity, open-plan offices have become a popular option. This office design trades traditional barriers like walls and closed office doors for an open space with employees working closely together. Benefits of an open-plan office design range from reduced overhead costs and better customization to more effective management and collaboration. Weighing these advantages against some possible drawbacks can help you choose the right office design.

Make Collaboration Easier

One of the main advantages of an open-plan office is that it allows for easier communication and collaboration among employees. Since you don't have workers separated by cubicles or physical offices, teams can easily meet at the same table or work area.

Employees become more productive since they can share ideas and get frequent feedback on project tasks from other teammates. The improved collaboration makes an open-plan office ideal for project-focused work environments as well as for co-working spaces for freelancers.

Save Money on Overhead Costs

Having reduced overhead costs is another one of the benefits of an open-plan office design. With no need to buy expensive cubicles or traditional work desks, businesses can put their money toward more important costs like marketing and product development.

Small businesses particularly benefit from an open office plan. Rather than needing funds to obtain a whole building or floor, they can simply start out by renting a small, open-plan office and only needing to buy some tables and chairs to get to work.

Improve Employee Management

Without the barriers of walls or closed office doors, it becomes easier for supervisors to monitor employees and respond to problems. Managers can walk around the open-plan office and easily communicate with employees and check their progress on assignments. This may also improve productivity since employees know that their managers are watching them, and they may slack off less under this increased supervision.

Employees benefit too since they have easier access to management throughout the workday. Since they don't have to leave their desks to go to the manager's office, employees may feel more comfortable approaching management in this open-plan format.

Allow for a Customized Space

Increased flexibility with how the office space is laid out is among the open-space office advantages. This kind of floor plan allows a company to decide how best to group workers to accomplish goals. As project teams grow, tables can be rearranged and moved around to allow for the most efficient collaboration. Managers can even have the setup changed at short notice when necessary, something that would not be possible with fixed walls.

A custom open-office plan allows for better amenities for employees. This allows companies to be trendier and offer cafes, game rooms or even some relaxing furniture for employees to use on their breaks and lunches.

Weighing Open-Space Office Advantages and Disadvantages

Before deciding to use an open floor plan for your business, weigh the advantages against the potential drawbacks of this design. You should also consider your employees' personalities, your project needs and your company culture when making your choice.

While collaboration becomes easier in an open layout, the noisier environment can become distracting for employees. It can also become more uncomfortable for introverted workers who prefer working alone. In addition, grouping workers so close together can unfortunately help illnesses spread more easily.

Increased supervision may actually reduce morale for some employees and cause extra stress for those who can't perform as well as their peers. Lastly, while overhead costs can go down, an open-office plan with expensive amenities can actually be more expensive.

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About the Author

Ashley Donohoe started writing professionally about business topics in 2010. Having eight years experience running all aspects of her small business, she is knowledgeable about the daily issues and decisions that business owners face. She also has earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a leadership and strategy concentration from Western Governors University. Some other places featuring her business writing include JobHero, LoveToKnow, PocketSense, Chron and Study.com.

Photo Credits

  • House interior design image by Aleksandar Radovanovic from Fotolia.com