The 'classic view' of the office space consisting of cubicles, in which workers simply got on with their work without much disturbance, has now long gone. Now, most office space planning projects provide an open plan view; bringing down those barriers that would otherwise leave workers feeling trapped, unable to chat and express themselves, and as anew study seems to indicate, be less active.

Office space planning: Great for active health?

The study consisted of 231 office workers (wearing chest sensors and heart monitors) in US government buildings that employed open plan and closed designs. It found that those who worked in open office design displayed 32% more physical activity than those who worked in private offices and 20% more than those in cubicles. The more active workers were also found to have 14% lower stress levels outside of the office than those who were less active. The health benefits that open office seems to provide, 'must not be ignored', the study says.

There are pros and cons to almost everything in life though,and open office space planning is no different. Here, we're going to look at the open office and sum up its pros and cons in order to give you more of insight into which type of design may provide your business with a more suitable fit.

The pros and cons of the open office

  • Pros:Better levels of communication. With no physical barriers in place, this will mean that workers are more likely to communicate with each other across the desk and work as a team. Improving levels of communication will boost collaboration, allow experienced or authority figures to seem more approachable and will generally help to promote a positive culture within the workplace.
  • Cons:Distractions. An increase in verbal communication across the office space will naturally mean more noise, which will create more distractions. A worker will hear (or have) multiple conversions during a typical day, whether it's through chatting or phone calls; they may even get annoyed at their neighbours' habits during the day. This is not helpful in creating that positive culture we mentioned earlier.
  • Pros:Cost effectiveness. No barriers in office space planning mean less of an overhead (literally, in some cases). This will provide the business with the option of ensuring that each worker has the necessary space and tools to allow them to work in a way they feel comfortable at.
  • Cons: No privacy. One aspect that the closed environment does do better than the open design is that they offer a sense of privacy to the employee. For some people, it can provide them with anxiety, knowing their every move is being watched. Especially by the boss.
  • Pros:Flexibility. This is the key word in today's office space planning; flexibility. Technology allows us to work from various points of a room, even outside of the room (tucked up in bed, sometimes),so why the need to place barriers all over the place? Open office designs are created in order to maximise the same sense of flexibility; they give the business the option to rearrange the office layout as they see fit, which is especially helpful if it needs to expand at any point.
  • Cons:Stress can still be a factor. With no privacy causing them to be anxious about their every move and not to mention, their every move being distracted by everything else that is happening within the office, it's not really a surprise that open office design may incubate stress as easy as it helps to take it away, through the creation of a social environment.
  • Pros:Aesthetics. Open office space planning is neat and tidy; it allows for the whole room to be on display,which will provide better levels of light, air circulation and not to mention,the innovative design of the walls providing them with inspiration.
  • Cons:Spread of illnesses. With most employees being present in the same environment together for 7 hours a day, illnesses are more likely to be passed around the office; especially when there are no walls to separate people.Whilst there isn't much that can be done about germs in the office, it can take steps to try and lessen the impact of them being spread; the importance of hand washing, cleaning desks and staying at home sick, rather than coming to work and potentially infecting everyone else, should be constantly relayed to employees.
  • Pros: On trend. Ultimately, many people today see the closed environment as 'old hat' and somewhat of a relic of the past. If a modern business has a whole office building full of them, then it's likely they will be seen in the same light too. By possessing an open office, a business will be seen as one that is au fait with the modern developments of workplace design,protecting its reputation.

The truth is (again, like everything in life) that the best solution is finding the right balance.Whilst it might be true that open office has more advantages than closed environments, this doesn't mean we should rip up barriers immediately; for example, some offices even combine the two to create a multi-layout office space. Every business is unique and therefore, it will need to find the right balance when it comes to their office space planning – something the team here at Oaktree Interiors can help with.

Improve your office interiors, with Oaktree

Whether you're looking to reimagine the existing layout of your office design, need to expand your business or are simply looking to better cater towards the working practices of your employees with a more bespoke design, why not allow the office fit out experts here at Oaktree Interiors help?

We have been undertaking innovative office space planning in the South East of England for over 30 years; our experiences constantly helping us to refine the services we are able to offer. Our FREE no obligation consultation takes into account the space available within your building and reimagines it, placing all of your requirements into a 2D/3D design, providing you with an insight into how your ideal office interiors will look.

If you would like to learn more, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our expert team today. Give us a call on 0345 21 86955 or send an e-mailto us at hello@oaktreeoffice.com and we'll be in touch ASAP.

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