Open Plan Offices : Appropriate for Your Company?

Huge open space offices, desks spread throughout a big room, staff from different departments all together, office equipment available for all colleagues… These are the new characteristics of offices that you see more and more nowadays.  Why is open space so common today? Is it really as efficient as it is said to be? If so, why? That’s what we are going to discover in this article.

Let’s talk about the advantages.  First of all, this way of working considerably improves communication between colleagues. Indeed, information can be exchanged easily; for example, by asking a colleague for additional explanations or by sharing an opinion. Moreover, as you are continually in contact with colleagues, you are always aware of new developments and you are kept informed about how different projects are evolving. In this way, you can be more reactive in certain situations. The third advantage is the convivial atmosphere. By working together, a group dynamic is created, which encourages efficiency and teamwork. The open space is also more cost-efficient when it comes to using a work floor to its maximum. 

Despite all the positive aspects, there are, nevertheless, some disadvantages. The first is the lack of privacy. Indeed, colleagues can see and hear everything. Anyone can see your computer screen or hear you when you are on a private phone call. This can result in a feeling of being “watched” by your colleagues.  Another drawback is the noise. In such an environment, you can hear colleagues’ conversations, phones ringing, colleagues laughing or shouting to one another across the office… This can affect your concentration. 

For my part, I believe that working in an open plan office is appropriate, depending on the activity or the department of the company. Some examples: consultancy offices or recruitment agencies, a customer service department, press groups or insurances. In these sectors, interaction between colleagues is crucial in order to optimise exchange of information.  Open space environments should, however, meet some basic characteristics to be efficient: the spaces should be partly partitioned, allowing team members to add a personal touch, for example, pictures or plants. The possibility to have separate, one-to-one meetings must be available.  Finally, this environment requires some discipline and, in order to uphold a harmonious team atmosphere, it may be necessary to make certain compromises. When you work in an open space office, it is, in my view, essential to adapt to your colleagues to ensure that you maintain a good relationship with the people you see and speak to every day. 

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