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How Open Plan Office Space Design Affects Employee’s Productivity?

These days, with the overwhelming popularity of open-plan design, there have been some questions about the usefulness and consequences to be faced because of the design. Pankaj Arora, Principal Manager at Microsoft seems to be opposing the open-space trend. He has said that, they don’t see doors as the barriers for communication, but they just see it as a barrier to noise. Still, there are lots of employees who want to get stuck in cubicles as they feel that open-plan design might lead to stress and increased number of sick days. 

So, is the room still there for older designs or is it high time to say bye to cubicles? Will the trending open-plan design help in increasing the wellbeing and productivity of employees? Well, the mixed opinions on the open-plan design itself say that there are pros and cons associated with it! The design allows for open communication, but at the same time it can be a disturbance for some.

Here are a few positive and negative sides of having an open-plan design at offices.

Pros of open-plan design

Open-plan design is not something that’s introduced in the recent times; it has been with us since the beginning of 20th century. All thanks to architects who favoured the design of spacious and larger work spaces.

  1. The idea of open office spaces is definitely a logical one; it creates an egalitarian environment where the employees are free to communicate and share their thoughts with each other. This fosters innovation and helps the companies to enhance their value proposition.
  2. The design also offers lots of financial advantages; it eliminates the need for separate rooms and cubicle walls, so that the company can save on building materials and construction costs. It cuts down the heating and cooling expenses through an efficient flow of air and light.
  3. Open office spaces also support greater sharing of resources. And when your business is growing, open plan offices provide you a great flexibility of adding more employees.

Cons associated with open-offices

According to International Management Facility Association, the employees working at open-plan offices will have the highest level of dissatisfaction, stress and illness. This is actually in direct contrast to the notion of open offices providing employee happiness and greater efficiency. But, what exactly is the reason for dissatisfaction?

  1. The employees in open spaces will not be able to tune out their conversations, which make them get compromised with the ability to focus. This in turn leads to increased stress and frustration.
  2. According to a research conducted by Ipsos, almost about 85% of employees are dissatisfied as they are not being able to concentrate, which is resulting in the loss of 86 working minutes per day.
  3. It’s not just the noise levels and distractions the employers must be concerned about. Recent studies have also shown a high correlation between the open offices and the sick leaves of employees. In some cases, it’s 70% more for those working in open offices.

Make the plan work for you!

Most of the employees working at open plan offices feel that privacy is really important. Of course, it allows them to be more focused on work; so the employers should mainly concentrate on the ways to increase the satisfaction of employees.

  • Employers can plan something like providing employees the ability to customize their work space by using movable walls, desks, tables and cabinets.
  • Allow employees to choose the seating arrangements as they prefer, and don’t force them to work in a pre-configured place.
  • Try to fill the working environment with natural lighting, nature view and abundant plants. This reduces the stress related cortisol levels and keeps them zealous all the time.

However, the employers need to think of incorporating the real strategies that would reduce the employee’s stress instead of being confined thinking about the workspace. Choose the configuration that suits the type of your business. May it be the modular workstation, cluster workstation, landscape or even the traditional office (cubicle); it definitely makes a great impact on the satisfaction level of employees.

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