Open office layouts follow the idea that removing walls between coworkers increases their satisfaction, creativity, and team-building efforts. These plans are designed to optimize workplace performance and create an inspiring environment in which employees can interact. Open office layouts are often chosen based on a company’s communication and privacy needs. In this guide, we’ll discuss open office plans and their suitability for various workspaces.
What Are Open Office Plans?
An open office layout eliminates physical barriers to promote productivity and collaboration. In contrast to traditional cubicle designs, open offices allow for greater visibility, increasing the likelihood of spontaneous idea-sharing.
In most cases, office equipment is centrally located and accessible to all team members. As there are no obstacles, workers enjoy greater freedom of movement and the ability to change the layout to suit their needs.
Open Office Plan Types
Open office layouts vary depending on the requirements of a company and its employees. Some of the most common plans are listed below.
- Coworking offices are typically subscription-based and used by several companies or individuals. Resources such as photocopiers, printers, and phones are shared, as are custodial and reception services. There’s usually an open area, as well as a private meeting space. Coworking spaces are great for independent contractors, telecommuters, and small business owners who may not be able to forego a dedicated office space.
- A team-based office is a new take on the conventional meeting room. It still offers an open feel, but resources and desks are grouped in a more structured way. Those working within a department or collaborating on a project can enjoy more effective communication. Some team-based offices use glass partitions and doors for additional privacy.
- A half-partitioned office plan presents a compromise for companies seeking the best of open office and cubicle layouts. Rather than full enclosure in a cubicle, team members are separated by low partitions. This layout offers privacy to seated employees without sacrificing openness. Here, workers don’t have to choose between easy communication and the ability to focus.
- Fully open offices have few or no partitions separating team members. This type of plan is popular among startups and those seeking a more modern aesthetic. Open office layouts are great for tech-based companies, as tablets and laptops allow employees to move freely while maintaining productivity.
Now that we’ve explained the differences between open office types, let’s discuss the advantages of open office plans.
Reasons to Consider an Open Office
An open office layout can bring positive change to companies, including benefits such as:
- Increased supervision. In the absence of partitions and cubicles, employers can ensure productivity and keep an eye on workers.
- Improved satisfaction among employees. Tech startups and other companies often have happier workers, because they benefit from shared workspaces and open communication.
- Lower costs. Offices that are open and those using glass partitions are less expensive to build because there’s less infrastructure required. Furthermore, open spaces can accommodate more resources and workstations.
- Visual appeal. In an open office, it’s easy to show the company’s culture to visitors and potential employees. Additionally, open spaces make for compelling marketing campaigns and photo shoots.
- Flexibility. Without permanent infrastructure, team members can change their workspace layouts at any time, based on what is needed. Moving desks to create team areas and workstations can increase productivity.
- Easier collaboration. Sitting at communal tables facilitates the easy flow of ideas and conversation.
With glass walls, doors, and corner partitions from Klein, it’s easy to create an open office with these benefits and many more.
Overcoming the Challenges of an Open Office
Though open office layouts have their benefits, they aren’t without their challenges. Here, we’ll present a few tips to make things flow more smoothly in open spaces.
- Create private areas. A lack of privacy isn’t right for everyone. Some workers may need quiet places to finish tasks on time. With glass walls and corner partitions, employers can create these private areas and give workers the alone time they need.
- Offer quieter options. Anyone who’s ever worked in an open office knows how noisy it can get. Without private meeting rooms and closed doors, it’s easy for employees to be distracted by what’s going on around them. Though communal seating inspires brainstorming, it also means hearing everything others are doing. Some workers are immune to the noise, but others need silence to work effectively. Consider allowing the use of noise-canceling headphones or setting aside a quiet zone that can be reserved as needed.
- Rearrange the furniture. Open offices are fluid by nature, and the layout you start with doesn’t have to be permanent. As a company’s culture evolves, its employees’ needs will also change. Rearranging office furniture is a cheap, simple way to improve employee satisfaction, and it can be done as many times as necessary. Workstations can be arranged according to privacy needs, project goals, and teams. Some workers may find the new configuration quite refreshing. At KLEIN, we also offer movable partitions and walls to accommodate the needs of the employees.
- Create multiple work areas. In an open office with glass walls, it’s easy to give workers options. A change of scenery will increase creativity levels and reinvigorate workers. With dedicated work areas, employees get the variety they need, as well as the ability to leave areas that no longer suit their needs. For example, external factors such as cold drafts and glare from overhead lights can negatively affect productivity but being able to move to a different station will minimize workflow interruptions.
- Plan for effortless connectivity. When walls come down, data and power connectivity become a challenge. Cloud-based services, VoIP phone tech, and secure WiFi are a great start, but you’ll still need to power each workstation. Furthermore, some data management scenarios call for hard-wired server solutions. Plan ahead by including extra concealed wiring to accommodate future growth and meet employees’ demands.
When they’re planned properly, open offices can increase creativity, improve collaboration, and allow for the free flow of new ideas. With the tips and tricks in this guide, companies of all sizes can implement open office concepts into their daily operations.
Contact a KLEIN representative to learn more about our architectural sliding door and partition systems.
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