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Could open-plan office space be on the way out?

Could open-plan office space be on the way out

Could open-plan office space be on the way out?

Is open-plan office space on the way out? It’s a question we’ve heard frequently in recent months.

The last few years has seen rising awareness of mental health issues in the workplace, coupled with new learnings around our ability to concentrate for extended periods of time in a noisy environment.

We’ve also begun to discuss the need for office space to work for everyone, regardless of age or physical ability or indeed whether you happen to be an introvert or an extrovert.

As a result, workplace specialists have begun to consider whether open-plan office space is all it was cracked up to be.

So, what are the benefits of open-plan office space?

We’re no strangers to the benefits of open-plan space; more collaboration, sharing of ideas and a ‘one company’ approach – the latter achieved even more effectively by businesses that chose to do away with single glass boxes for executives as well.

Open-plan offices are also more effective in terms of maximising space, limiting wastage and allowing flexibility as a business grows and its team expands.

Many of us will say that we prefer working in an open-plan environment, benefiting from the buzz it creates and enjoying the opportunity to be sociable throughout the day.

Few will bemoan the cubicles and desk dividers of the 1980’s.

Yet it would be remiss to suggest that open plan workspace doesn’t also bring its fair share of challenges – lack of privacy and difficulty completing tasks that require more concentration, for example. And we all know how irksome unwanted interruption can be – especially when you’re on deadline.

So, are open-plan offices here to stay? Or will companies revert to the segregated workstations that were the norm twenty years ago?

Designing an effective open-plan office

An office space doesn’t have to be open-plan at the expense of all else. The answer lies in making sure that other, more private space is available should people need to concentrate.

More thought around walkways and through-routes can also help avoid distraction – prevent people weaving in and out of desks and cutting across the office, instead sticking to designated walkways.

Make sure that printers and water coolers are in an appropriate spot, away from any desking and thus limiting unwanted distractions for their occupants.

Businesses should also consider allowing employees to work flexibly from home or elsewhere if they’re on deadline or working on a project that requires more focus.

Acoustics also plays a huge role in designing an effective open-plan office and shouldn’t be ignored – check out this great guest blog from Tash Nugent, MD at Akustisol for more information on managing acoustics in the workplace

The decision to create an open-plan office should be a considered choice at design stage.

There are alternative options and each should be discussed fully, considering the pros and cons for each.

Managed properly, with full consideration, open-plan office space can deliver real benefits for a business, making sure that the pros easily outweigh the cons.

If you’re looking for an experienced office fit-out contractor, give Aztec a call. With more than 30 years’ experience delivering high-quality office fit out and refurbishment projects that stand the test of time, you’ll be in safe hands.

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