With 70% of employees in the United States working in open offices, this pattern of designing workplaces is the most prevalent design paradigm in contemporary American corporate environments today.
Several positive attributes make open plan designs popular with businesses. For one, they are extremely economical and allow for quick changes to be made in response to the evolving nature of many companies. Another strength lies in their ability to foster collaboration and create opportunities for developing innovative ideas. Many proponents of this type of office design also argue that it helps to strengthen relationships between employees.
A recent article from Business Insider argues against these advantages, however, citing a New Yorker blog post by Maria Konnikova that cites several studies that have linked adverse effects to open plan offices.
Office managers looking to rent a new Washington, DC office space should take note of the following disadvantages the article presents before they decide on how to lay out their company’s work spaces:
1. Decreased employee happiness
2. Decline in productivity due to the decreased happiness
3. Increased noise levels leading to worker distraction
4. Difficulty in maintaining the ability to multitask due to the increase in distractions
5. Psychological helplessness caused by the inability to control small things like adjusting the lighting or decorating personal space
6. Less-social senior workers suffer from the lack of privacy
7. Increased workplace illness due to close proximity of individuals
In planning offices, the advantages and disadvantages of open plans can then be distilled to provide a rough assessment of whether they will work for a particular company or not.
As an example, a company with a significantly larger population of older employees would do well to consider veering off the open office trend to provide these senior workers with the privacy they need in order to maintain productivity.
A young tech or design company, on the other hand, will benefit from instances of innovation that occur when a younger population is thrust into a similar environment.
Many business center operators, like Metro Offices, offering flexible office space in Washington, DC, are often able to accommodate companies regardless of whether they need an open or closed office design. Additionally, their experience in the market also allows them to provide insights on design patterns that work for companies with similar needs.
(Article Information and Image from 7 Ways The Open Office Is A Worker's Worst Enemy, Business Insider, January 10, 2014)