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Seven Reasons Why an Open Plan Office Space May Not Be Right for Your Business

Open plan offices were once all the rage, though these days many business organisations have come to the realisation that this style of office space isn’t all that it was once cracked up to be. If you’ve been thinking about changing the layout of your office space and the open plan office was one of the office layouts that you were considering implementing, read through the following seven reasons before making up your mind. As management in many business organisations now knows well, there are other layouts that may represent a more suitable choice.

  1. They May Actually Decrease Productivity Rather than Increase It

As many studies have shown, open plan offices often decrease employee productivity rather than increase it, so implementing an open office plan may prove detrimental to your business organisation. That’s not always the case, it must be said, as some organisations have thrived with open plan office spaces, but more often than not, they’re a hindrance rather than a help.

Before implementing an open plan design, meet with your employees and ask them what they think. While it may be a good idea to have an open plan office, you may find that you need to add extra spaces, like quiet spaces where employees can get away from the hubbub and get their heads down to focus on their work. Leading interior design firms like Saracen Interiors can help you to create a mixed office plan, one that combines an open plan area with breakout spaces and quiet areas.

  1. Open Plan Offices Increase Workplace Distractions

One of the most prominent reasons why employees tend to be less productive in open plan offices is the increase in workplace distractions. Whether that’s the noise of other people talking, the clicking and clattering of the mouse and keyboard as other employees type or the visual distractions posed by other workers working around their workstations, these workplace distractions prevent many workers from working to their best capabilities.

A 2014 article from the Guardian cites a study that shows employees, on average, lose about 86 minutes every day to distractions in the workplace. This seriously decreases overall productivity.

  1. Open Plan Offices Restrict Brain Power

Among employees who need to perform complex tasks, like analysing spreadsheets and figures, studies have shown that working in an office space with an open plan office actually restricts brain power and makes it much more difficult to concentrate on the tasks at hand. That means highly-paid professionals are often unable to deliver the high-performance work they should be capable of.

  1. Employees are Often Not Happy in Open Plan Offices

Studies the world over have shown that many employees aren’t happy working in open plan offices for one or more reasons, ranging from the background noise to excessive office gossip and a general feeling of being cramped and not having enough personal space for oneself. When employees aren’t happy in an office space it’s definitely time that management looks for solutions to implement.

Steelcase, an international furniture firm, cited this in a report that shows why many employees just aren’t as happy as they could be because they’re working in an open plan office space; “… 95 percent said working privately was important to them, but only 41 percent said they could do so, and 31 percent had to leave the office to get work completed.”

If your employees have to leave the office to get their work completed, just how happy will they be working for your organisation? It suffices to say that many will become disenchanted as time goes on and look for another employer, therefore, increasing staff turnover rates. Moreover, before they leave, there’s a good chance that they’ll be absent from the workplace more than usual which means that management has increased absenteeism rates to contend with as well.

  1. Open Plan Offices Increase Absenteeism and Staff Turnover Rates

In an article in the New Yorker, a study cited showed that employees working in open plan offices take 62 percent more sick leave than workers who spend the working day in an alternative office layout.

Absenteeism can be caused by legitimate health concerns (see below), but it can also be caused by employees simply not wanting to work in an office environment which they don’t enjoy. As there are many other office layouts that can be implemented, along with extras such as breakout areas, quiet spaces and private rooms, management is encouraged to look into their options here and discuss their needs, requirements and ideas with a leading interior and office design firm.

  1. They May be Detrimental to the Health of Employees

“… high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and a high staff turnover,” was what Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation discovered in a comprehensive study of open plan offices. If an office space layout has the effect of making employees physically ill, something needs to be done about it and fast.

  1. They’re Often Not at All Cost-Effective

When one takes into account the increased rates of absenteeism, staff turnover and overall decreased productivity, open plan offices are often not at all cost-effective in comparison to office spaces in which employees have access to more private office areas, whether they’re cubicles, shared offices (for example, four or five people to a room, usually a department or unit) or simply have access to a quiet space where they can get away from the noise and distractions and get some real work done.

As you can see from these seven pertinent examples, working in an open plan office is often far from beneficial. That means all business organisations currently operating with an open plan office may need to reconsider their workspace by meeting with their employees and discussing areas that need to be improved. Once you’ve created a list of all the things that need to be focused upon, schedule a time to meet with a representative of a leading office design firm to create the perfect office space for your organisation.