The Pros And Cons Of Open-Plan Office Design
Open-plan offices remain a growing trend in office design, particularly for Millennial-dominated companies that favor teamwork and open communication. Though a popular and often cheaper design option, research shows the trend can detract from employee productivity.
In an effort to provide employees with the best possible office environment, companies are constantly revamping office layout and making secluded rooms and isolated spaces available to accommodate different work preferences. That is where innovative designs like those from Framery, a company that creates soundproof phone booths for open-plan spaces, come into play. The Finland-based company recently signed a deal with Microsoft, and has also delivered units to tech companies like Uber, Deloitte and PwC.
Take a look at the top pros and cons associated with open-plan office design.
CORRECTION, FEB. 10, 12:30 P.M. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the location of Framery's headquarters. The story has been updated.
For a lot of companies embracing open office space, communication and collaboration among employees is key. Traditional offices often hinder communication as employees come to work, often keep to themselves within their offices and go home. Open offices can sometimes force the most introverted worker to interact.
CON: Too Much Noise
One of the main concerns regarding open office space for employees: too much noise. Often the constant communication in these environments can have the opposite effect of what was intended. Instead of collaborating on projects, employees huddle in a corner with their headphones on in hopes of fighting through the noise to get work done. Headphones are one of the clearest ways to say “Don’t bother me.”
PRO: No More Hierarchy
By eliminating individual offices, open-office designs remove the hierarchy associated with private and corner offices. Open floor plans place everyone on a level playing field, which lends itself to a more cohesive office environment where employees respect one another as equals. That is not to say there is not someone in charge, but that person’s position is drawn attention to by his or her personal office space.
CON: Lack Of Productivity
Modern-day employees value workplaces where they can focus and work productively without interruption. That does not include being surrounded by dozens of colleagues talking and pounding away on their computers close to one another. Offering private rooms like Framery’s phone booths (pictured) is a way to assuage those concerns.
PRO: Crazy Amenities
Open-space offices often come fit with some pretty awesome amenities. It is not just work-related collaboration that takes place in these offices. These amenities can range from a relaxing coffee break within a café-like common area, to a nice game of pool and ping-pong, or a rock climbing session or go-cart race. (We’re not making this up.)
CON: Stress And Undue Competition
Though the constant collaboration and open communication are meant to keep employees aware of what is going on with the business, it can lead to undue stress — particularly if a team is not performing as it should or the business is struggling and employees catch wind of it. In addition, allowing workers to keep tabs on one another’s performance can result in unhealthy competition or a lack of motivation for workers that may move at a slower pace and feel their work does not measure up.