Open Office Spaces
Pro’s – Open office spaces foster communication. Office layouts were the lower level employees sit in rows or cubicles and managers occupy offices with doors are quickly becoming a thing of the past in favour of large, open spaces.
Co-working spaces typically consist of long desks where freelancers sit side by side. In businesses the Managers are coming out of their offices and literally bringing the walls down that separate them from the rest of the team.
Conference rooms, though enclosed, usually feature glass walls. Some companies like Twitter even go the extra step and configure their buildings entrance so that employees must pass through a high-end communal break room before continuing on to their departments.
What’s the benefit of all this openness? Communication. Research has pointed to the fact that workers are more likely to communicate with each other for project details and assistance problem-solving if they have mingled socially.
The other benefit of this type of space is, obviously, accountability. With no solid walls or doors, workers experience a sort of “fish bowl effect” and are more likely to stay focused on the task at hand.
Janet might be less inclined to spend two hours in the afternoon researching her next holiday to the Canary Islands if her manager is sitting behind her.
Cons – There are bound to be a few negatives associated with a fully open office concept. Open spaces, on the days when you have a full complement of staff, can be noisy.
If your work is research based or involves digesting and considering large amounts of information you may not be able to concentrate if Bob, two seats down is conducting an audible sales conversation.
Some people just work better in silence, other need background noise. Having breakout spaces, designated “quiet areas” and separate meeting rooms increases the chances of creating a flexible working space for all.
What is the purpose behind the design?
When it comes to designing corporate workspaces, organisations have to decide what is most important to them. Is the purpose to create a space that nurtures a more productive team? To make sure that employees are happy and comfortable in their day to day environment?
Or is your visual impact of foremost concern? Is the driver of design, ensuring that corporate aesthetic and brand are aligned?