A Guide To Open-plan Offices

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If you’re looking for your first office space or considering making the move to a bigger office, you might be wondering what type of office layout you should go for. Is an open plan office design the best fit for your business, or should you consider private offices? 

Let’s take a look at some open-plan office advantages and disadvantages to help you make up your mind.

What is an open-plan office?

First things first, what exactly is meant by an open-plan office? As implied by the name, it’s an open space where employees all work, without any dividers or office cubicles to separate them. They were designed with collaboration in mind, with the idea that if your colleagues are visible, they’re easier to communicate and collaborate with.

There has been some debate over the years about whether open-plan offices are a benefit or a hindrance when it comes to productivity at work. So, let’s take a look and see what type of office layout might work for your business.

Advantages of open-plan offices

Let’s start with the plus points.

Improved communication

Without the physical barriers of traditional office spaces with private offices, employees are more visible to one another, which can mean easier communication between teams. What’s more, working beside someone from a completely different department exposes workers to other parts of the business they might not have much cause to interact with otherwise, which could spark creativity and collaboration.

Reduced costs

When you opt for an open-plan over private offices, the square footage you need in your office space is significantly reduced – and that means the overall cost of your office rental is also less. 

You’ll save even more money when you opt for a fully serviced office space. These come with everything you need to get your business up and running, including high-speed internet, printing and photocopying facilities, and utilities, so all you need to pay is one fixed monthly fee.

Flexibility to grow

One of the great things about an open plan office space is that it makes it easier to expand your business. Rather than having to rent out another floor of the building or move into a new office space, you can simply rearrange the layout. Particularly if you have a hybrid team and all of your staff aren’t in the office at once, an open plan office offers all the space you need. There is plenty of room for either hot-desking or fixed, dedicated workspaces for each employee, without the rigidity of private offices.

Levelling the playing field

Sometimes in traditional office spaces, employees would work in an open-plan space or cubicles, whilst managers had spacious private offices. With an open-plan office, everyone works on the office floor, making your leaders seem more approachable.

All of our office spaces include private office space, so there are still plenty of opportunities to conduct a personal meeting or grab a couple of hours alone to get your head down and work on an important task.

Open plan office disadvantages

Okay, so what about the disadvantages of the open-plan office – surely they can’t be too good to be true?

Loss of productivity

If you prefer peace and quiet to get on with your work, the constant buzz of an open plan office can be distracting. One study found that 73% of workers work in an open-plan office, whilst 18% have their own private office space. Of those who worked in an open-plan space, 36% said the office design caused them to be less productive, compared to just 14% of those who had their own office. Additionally, one in three workers states that the distractions and noise in an open plan office slow them down at work.

Lack of privacy

In a room with no barriers, there’s also no privacy. This caused 31% of employees to state that the decreased privacy from an open plan office causes them to tone down their conversation or hold back their genuine opinion because they didn’t want to be overheard by a colleague.

One solution to this problem is choosing an office space with a variety of different areas. Opt for one with plenty of meeting rooms as well as breakout spaces, so your team can choose where and how they want to work, without distractions from other staff members.


One of the major concerns for employees working in an open-plan space is how noisy it’s going to be. It’s undeniable that working from a private office is the quieter option, but then again, there are ways to combat this through clever office design and reminding staff about the meeting rooms which can be easily booked.

Open plan office etiquette

So, if you do decide to go with an open-plan office, are there any ground rules you should get your staff to follow?

Take calls in meeting rooms

Although some degree of noise is to be expected in an open-plan office; there are some avoidable sounds. If you have a client call that will last for 30 minutes, an hour, or even longer, why not book out a meeting room? That way you can have some privacy, and your colleagues won’t be bothered by the sound of your call. Alternatively, if you have to stay at your desk, always use headphones.

Keep the space tidy

When everything’s out in the open, it doesn’t take much for the space to begin to look messy. Every employee can do their part by keeping their desk tidy and returning any used mugs, glasses and crockery back to the kitchen once they’re done with it.

Respect the need to work

Open-plan offices are social spaces by design, but everyone still has a job to do. If you spot a colleague wearing headphones, they’re likely trying to hit a deadline or are immersed in a task, so don’t disturb them unless absolutely necessary. Use tools like Slack to drop colleagues a line before heading over to their desk for a chit-chat, or make use of breakout zones for more informal meetings.

Find your next office space

Whether you’re convinced by an open-plan office layout or love the idea of more private space, we can help you to find the best fit for you. From coworking spaces, and sociable areas where you can expect plenty of interaction with like-minded businesses, to private office spaces just for your business, we’ve got something for everyone here at Easy Offices.

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