Today large, open plan offices have become the norm across both small and large organisations all over the world. The main benefit and thinking behind the open design comes from keeping costs at bay, hugely welcomed in the current economy.

Undeniably, being in such close proximity to colleagues can have their good and bad points. From too much noise, to believe it or not too little noise, join us as we weigh up the pros and cons of working in an open plan office.

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PROS

✓ Improvement of staff communication

Inevitably being in close contact with your colleagues will lead to greater opportunities for discussion, and encourage the sharing of ideas- with an open plan office communicating becomes easier and much more efficient.

✓ Boost in morale and productivity

Without walls and doors to create a more isolated working environment, an open plan office creates a more informal environment. Impromptu discussion can help foster good professional and personal relationships, and is a positive influence in team building. It could even push you to stay competitive amongst your colleagues.

✓ Reduction on overheads

A huge pull factor for employers, an open plan office dramatically reduces the amount of floor space needed, meaning that more employees can be housed in a smaller space. You will be using less heating and electricity too, a greener approach to office space.

✓ Easily allows for expansion

If business is booming and you are regularly recruiting, an open plan office can quickly be changed with minimal effort. A simple addition or reshuffle of desks can be a quick and easy solution for a growing workforce, offering the ultimate in workplace flexibility.

✓ Streamlined management process

As everyone is in a centralised area, it is easier for managers to keep track of their employees and the progress they are making. Managers are more likely to be in constant contact, therefore problems are dealt with quicker and issues solved before they start to spiral out of control.

CONS

X Too much noise

With telephones ringing, and numerous discussions happening simultaneously around your desk, noise is one of the biggest problems in an open plan office.  Not even the best multi- tasker can keep up with two conversations at once! Unfortunately, the distraction of noise at work has been linked to a decrease in productivity and increased stress levels.

X Too little noise

On the other hand, deathly silence can also cause issues in an open plan office. People may be reluctant to talk in a very quiet office as they will be aware that their colleagues will be able to hear their conversations, meaning that levels of communication are actually reduced.

X Lack of privacy

Working on confidential projects can be difficult. Those working close to you can have easy access to your computer screen and be able to listen in on important phone calls. Security risks may also be an issue, as there are fewer locks and obstacles for an intruder to face.

X Spreading of germs

Being in close proximity means a hot bed for infections to spread. Coughs, colds and flus spread like wildfire in an open environment, meaning that your entire workforce could be out of action at the same time.

X Constant Interruptions

If you have a deadline to meet, then the “stop, start” interruptions from your colleagues wanting advice or guidance can be terribly distracting. Although you can turn off email, it is not so easy to limit such interruptions caused by your co-workers.

As we are constantly connected, at work, at home and on the go, perhaps the approach of an open plan office is losing its appeal. Employees may double their productivity working at home or even in a more informal location such as coffee shop from time to time. No matter what, due to their economic influence, open plan offices are still here to stay.

Do you enjoy working in an open plan office, or would your productivity levels benefit from a rethinking of an office layout?

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