Open plan office design can probably be considered as ‘the standard’ layout in workplaces across the country today. Bringing down the physical barriers between people, they have been designed to literally ‘open up’ the immediate environment. This helps to increase collaboration and camaraderie between workers, boosting inspiration, creativity and togetherness. All characteristics of a successful and innovative business.

Whilst an office fit out for collaboration is great for employees to share information and their general morale, what about the need to get on with work without distractions? The nature of ‘chats across desks’ will prove distracting, so how can this be remedied for those occasions when work needs to get done?

Private offices would be ideal; allowing an employee the space to concentrate on the work in hand, they will provide a productivity boost. The issue though, is that they offer less collaboration; so how can a business choose the right layout for their needs? Here, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of open and private offices.

Pros and cons of open and private office fit outs

  • The open office (‘the creative space’). The phrase ‘open plan office’ may conjure up an image of rows of desks, with people sat facing each other (or the same way), separated only by a computer monitor. Such a set-up is ideal for those business types who, although they need their staff to work by themselves, want to keep options open to discuss issues. Despite the sense of openness though, an open office layout is actually limited in regards to its collaborative effects.

    For a business that relies heavily on promoting creative thinking and teamwork, a more suitable office fit out would be one that contains a range of specialised spaces. For example, placing desks so they face each other will encourage more face-to-face interaction and group discussions, a round table away from the glare of the monitor would cater better for the sharing of ideas, etc.

    The trouble is though, noise will be created in these environments; a solution that a closed space can provide...
  • The private office (‘closed, concentrated space’). If it isn’t a requirement for employees to collaborate, then a closed space would be perfect to help them to concentrate on their work, without distractions. A private office allows for an individual to take ownership of their working environment, away from the noise of chat and clattering keyboards; things that so often can break concentration and interrupt a train of thought. A private space also allows for a person to create an environment that is ideal for them; rather than them, existing in a space that may be uncomfortable, further reducing the likelihood of distractions.

    The trouble is though, that space for private offices for everyone comes at a premium, so it won’t always be possible to introduce such spaces; leading to more openness than the business needs. So how can openness be shaped to be more private? What about if the business needs both open and private spaces?

Finding the right balance between open and closed office space

In the effort to create more collaborative environments, the concept of the ‘free-flowing’ office is becoming more commonplace in today’s office designs. In an era that has shepherded in an increased amount of connectivity (what with tablet computers, laptops and Wi-Fi), many businesses have found that they can forgo the ‘traditional’ desk set-ups and instead, create free-flowing offices. These places give people space to work in their preferred locations, moving their entire workstation with them as they talk and collaborate with colleagues.

Unfortunately, this type of layout will not be appropriate for all business types and their employees; questions about privacy and noise still exist. Instead of turning back to private offices, cubicles may be used instead; offering a private, enclosed environment across the same amount of floor space that would be taken up by an open office. Cubicles consist of desks that have been enclosed by short dividers, which help to prevent any distractions, whilst still providing the private space that the employee can personalise and make their own.

However, it is important to consider that cubicle environments are not a ‘one-stop solution’ to cut down on all distractions; external noise will still be a factor and the lack of natural light or fresh air provides a less-comfortable experience. So how can the right balance be struck?

Modern office fit out solutions make it possible to create an open office that contains a variety of different acoustic areas. These help to create those free-flowing, creative spaces and cater for private areas, in which distracting noise can be cut down upon. Even items such as furniture can be designed to block out noise from one area of a room or be tall enough to block views of the rest of the office. It’s important to know though, that there is no single blueprint for the perfect office design. Modern design techniques allow us to create an environment that is more suited to individuals, so understanding the way that each employee works, and how that relates to the business’ aims, is the key to great bespoke design. Only by unlocking this potential, can you truly reap the benefits. This is where a professional office design company can help.

Choose Oaktree Interiors for your modern office fit out solution

If you’re thinking about improving your office fit out to better suit the creative talents of your dedicated team, why not get in touch with the office design experts here at Oaktree Interiors to help you realise your ideal workplace?

Throughout the last 3 decades, we have been creating bespoke office designs for a wide range of different business types, of all sizes and industries. Building up a substantial portfolio in the process, our client-focused approach to our work has seen us create office designs that are in-tune with getting the best out of the talents of a particular workforce.

To learn more about our services, please feel free to give us a call on 0345 21 86955 or alternatively, you can send an e-mail enquiries to hello@oaktreeoffice.com

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