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Open or Closed Office Layout?

Most offices will have either open or closed work environments.  I would like to discuss the pros and cons of both of these layouts to help you better plan for your own office.

 

Open work environments are often thought of as one giant room with no boundaries or walls separating employees.  Although that can be one example of an open work environment, that doesn’t mean it’s the only open work environment.  Environments that are classified as “open” usually refer to a work setting that fosters flowing communication and many benefits such as:

 

Employees can receive mentoring from colleagues

 

Project directions are more clear and understood

 

Many can see how business runs by practice – not theory

 

Best environment for teams; fosters informal conversations that build trust for others’ judgment calls and expertise

 

Some drawbacks include a greater amount of noise and distraction, little acknowledgement in regard to status and hierarchy, and possible tension.

 

 

Open Layout

Open Layout

 

Alternatively, there are closed work environments.  Many employees prefer these environments for several reasons:

 

They allow more critical thinking and focus

 

Have lesser chance of noise and distraction

 

Provide the individual an authentic space of their own

 

Allow others to feel more comfortable having privacy

 

Signify status in regard to seniority/expertise

 

Although many employees prefer closedwork spaces, they actually work more productively in open ones.  In closed environments the free flow of information is extremely limited and many employees are denied learning since they cannot observe their colleagues.  Also, meetings are only scheduled and informal conversation is scarce.

 

7x7-row-of-4-private1

 

 

Private Office

Private Office

You should try to incorporate both environments into your office design.  Having an array of different work settings will be more effective than trying to have one particular space accommodate everything and everyone in your business. 

 

For open work spaces, you can practice zoning, where you build clusters or individuals with the same job functions in one area.  To offer closed work spaces, you can use panel systems to grant privacy, but not fully restrict the free flow of conversation between employees.  Conference rooms can work well for teams to develop and create, and their views and high-class appearance can be utilized for meetings with clients.

 

Be sure to draw, map out, and talk through your plans in order to find the best alternative that fits your company’s current needs.  Just remember, leave room for future expansion and growth.  Having the flexibility to move people and furniture around will save you both time and money. 

 

When looking into office cubicle layouts, you will want to compare the cost difference between open and closed layouts.  Typically, it is more expensive to create a closed plan because there are less shared panels between workstations and more panels needed for privacy.  Open plans usually use less panels and more frequently share panels between two workstations.