The pros and cons of open-office layouts

Firms considering this option must reflect on its impact on employees and businessImage Credit: Supplied

The recent times have observed a shift in trends in office space. From cabins to heavy cubicle spaces, open-office layouts have now become the current fad. Many firms are turning towards it as it offers a blend of business and staff advantages.

Generally, an open-office layout comprises open workstations, which lead to increased collaboration between employees. From the business perspective, it encourages business innovation and expansion through increased communication and cooperation. It also reduces the expenses related to office space construction, and utilities and equipment, and improves the flow of air and light. Above all, an open-office space provides flexibility to accommodate growing manpower requirements. Meanwhile, the staff experiences great camaraderie as it provides a neutral ground for everybody to pursue creative/productive exchanges.

However, an open-office layout may affect the employees’ concentration and productivity due to frequent distractions, lack of privacy, and, sometimes, absenteeism resulting from the spread of diseases. This may slow down business efficiency. Thus, at times, it works best for sales or project teams as it allows for spontaneous and insightful discussions.

Open-office layouts are mostly seen in the IT or business process outsouring industry. Start-ups also opt for this design to save space. The biggest advantage is that it gives an image of an egalitarian culture.

To achieve a balance between staff concerns/work styles, and a vibrant and modern open-floor plan, its model ought to be designed in a way which supports both. For example, an EAP company designed its seating arrangements in the middle for admin and business development staff surrounded by a training room, counselling room, senior psychologists’/MD’s cabins, reading/coffee corner and pantry. Some companies only have standing workstations or random seating.

However, before transforming your workplace into an open office, reflect on its limitations first.

Handy Hints:

* The current office layouts now lend towards open-floor plans

* This cost-effective option promotes collaboration among staff

* It may, however, lead to reduced productivity due to distractions

Source: Arva Shikari, Special to Properties

The writer is a freelancer


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