Open vs Closed Plan Offices

open vs closed plan offices

When it comes to choosing an office layout, there are plenty of design options to choose from. Two of the most popular layouts, however, are open plan and closed plan office designs, with each presenting its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. We’ve weighed up the advantages of both, allowing you to easily see which option would suit you and your workers best!

Open

Fosters an environment of collaboration

When employees work in close proximity to other staff members, it's easy for them to ask questions in person, share their knowledge and learn new skills from one another. With no walls to separate them, employees can gather together to brainstorm and work on projects together with ease. 

Can be more economical

One of the greatest advantages to open plan offices, particularly from the employer’s point of view, is the ability to save space. Instead of providing each employee with an office of their own, open plan office designs generally position workers alongside each other, with partitions providing a reasonable level of privacy. Opting for an open plan layout can also reduce construction, heating and cooling costs and allows workers to share resources such as printers and other office supplies.

open plan office

Image Credit: K2 Space / CC by 2.0.

Increases employee camaraderie

While individual offices may leave employees feeling isolated, open plan offices can work to build camaraderie. Working alongside each other for many hours throughout the week, friendships and mutual respect for one another can grow, providing a better work environment and sense of belonging to the organisation.

Can encourage better communication

If a workforce spends the day in their own individual offices, it is quite easy for emails to replace face to face discussions and lead to a lower quality of communication. As employees work in close proximity to each other within an open plan workspace, they can easily discuss an issue when it arises, receive an instant response and ensure that everyone who needs to be, is kept ‘in the loop’.

open plan office

Image Credit: K2 Space / CC by 2.0.

Closed

Provides fewer distractions

With the option to close their door when they need focus, workers in closed plan offices tend to face fewer distractions while they work. Encountering fewer distractions, workers with their own offices are able to enjoy greater productivity, fewer disruptions and a quieter work environment.

Allows for increased privacy

In an open plan office, there is very little privacy when it comes to making phone calls and working with sensitive material. In an individual office, however, workers don’t have to worry about having to leave communal areas to answer their phones or the possibility of someone seeing something they aren’t meant to over their shoulder. They have the option to leave their door open if they wish or to close it when they need to concentrate most.

closed office

Image Credit: Campaign Monitor / CC by 2.0.

Can help to reduce absenteeism

As workers sit together and share resources in an open plan office, they more often than not also share illnesses such as colds, the flu and other communicable conditions. Workers in a closed plan office, however, have been seen to get sick less often and miss fewer days of work.

Offers larger work areas

As each worker is allocated their own dedicated work space in a closed plan office, there is generally more space to work and the option to store resources and files used most often within easy reach. Workers are also able to personalise their environments in a way that inspires their productivity without needing to consider the tastes and needs of others.

closed office

Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz of Encino / CC by 2.0.

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