There has always been debate over what the perfect office environment should consist of and what makes a team work to their maximum potential. Open-plan offices can promote teamwork and productivity but often employees find such an office environment does just the opposite. We take a look at the pros and cons of open plan offices to help you decide what’s best for your company.
• Flexible – The flexibility of the office space means that more or fewer staff can be accommodated by means of simply moving a few desks around or adding some temporary partitions to create privacy or to divide the workforce into teams or departments. In smaller individual offices, more employees often mean squashing two or more people into a tiny office until a solution is found.
• More economical – With the inability to just slide a wall slightly to the left comes the added expense of finding your growing business a new office space – open-plan offices can more easily accommodate new employees. Not only is an open plan office cheaper when it comes to floor space, it’s also cheaper to heat and cool just one office rather than multiple smaller ones.
• Communication – The close environment nurtures the flow of ideas and cooperation, which arguably means a more productive workforce that is able to bounce ideas around and get help from different departments more easily.
• Team spirit – A sense of team spirit tends to thrive in open-plan offices, especially in sales environments or industries where competition is rife. Pitching staff or teams against each other to reach targets helps bond workforces together as long as it’s all in good humour.
• Management – One room is easier for managers to supervise, with fewer staff cooped up in their offices having naps or whiling away the hours on social networking sites, personal phone calls or even taking a quick nap. The ability to crack down on time wasting means that a lot more can get done in the working day.
• Noise – Although communication is often vital, some work better in a quiet and calm environment. Noise from others on phone calls or chatting (even if it’s about work) can distract some people. And the larger the office, the more people there are clattering away at their keyboards and more phones will be ringing, sometimes causing more harm than good.
• Sickness – Illnesses spread easily and outbreaks of flu can mean that many or all of your staff can be off work at one time. A close working environment means that any bugs that are caught outside of the office are more likely to spread, and rather quickly too.
• Confidentiality – Sensitive material is harder to keep safe. Private telephone calls to clients, emails or other information on computer screens will sometimes be available to those they weren’t intended for.
• Isolation – Although private offices can be a challenge for managers who will need to proactively encourage teamwork, open plan offices can be just as isolating. Quiet staff can sometimes be overpowered by boisterous employees, while cliques can form causing some staff to spend the hours wishing they had their own office to escape to, just to get some work done.
• Cliques – Cliques form more easily in open-plan offices, and office politics becomes more visible, sometimes causing more harm than good. Bullying can amount from this and employees going head to head over easily solvable issues can also become a problem.