When deciding whether to host an open workspace or a more private, cellular office design, there are several things to consider.
Firstly, different office layouts lend themselves to different job functions.
In roles where individuals are expected to collaborate, bounce ideas off each other, and be creative, an open design could foster communication. However, jobs which require quiet contemplation and focus might be performed more efficiently and productively in a private workspace.
In the age of remote working and online working capabilities, coworking management software means that those that need a quiet space can work in a solitary environment while staying connected to the team at the click of a button.
Alternatively, those that need to collaborate have a platform through which they can effectively and easily communicate with coworkers, reducing the reliance on fixed office space with an open or private design.
However, for companies that are still operating from a fixed space, these are the three main advantages and disadvantages of both open and private workspaces.
- Communication: Open office spaces promote communication and collaboration. They encourage innovation and creativity by allowing employees to share ideas, both formally and informally.
- Employee morale: Because the avenues for informal communication are always open, there is improved company culture. Employees know each other on a personal level as well as a professional level.
- Transparency: Open workspaces allow for a lot of visibility. This means employees are under each other’s gaze more frequently and their actions are more transparent.
- Distractions: Because open office spaces promote communication, this can lead to reduced productivity when employees are working on tasks that do not require collaboration or communication.
- Limited privacy: When employees are carrying out phone calls or having meetings with clients, open office spaces do not offer a great deal of privacy. If you are considering adopting an open working model, it might be useful to have some private spaces available for sensitive meetings.
- Illness: Employees that work in a communal, open office space a more susceptible to illness. Germs are spread more easily as employees work in closer proximity to each other. One 2011 study estimated that workers in open-plan offices take 62% more sick days than those working in private workspaces.
- Efficiency: Reduced distractions means that employees working in private workspace are more efficient and more productive than those in open workspaces.
- Confidentiality: Being disconnected from the rest of the workforce allows employees to take sensitive phone calls and conduct impromptu meetings in their workspace.
- Increased security: In private workspaces, an employee’s actions and work is not easily visible to the rest of the team. This is useful when employees are working on confidential or security-sensitive matters.
- Reduced innovation: Lower levels of employee engagement mean reduced innovation and creativity.
- Reduced interpersonal relations: Disconnected employees can lead to subcultures forming and a lack of integration among departments. Not only can this damage morale, but it can also hinder the efficiency of the company.
- More expensive: Both cubicles and private offices incur higher costs than a simple open plan design.