Industry Thoughts | Serviced Office Guides

Don’t Give Up on the Open Office Just Yet

By wizu | 27 July 2021

Open offices are seen as great by some and as horrible by others. However, there’s good and bad to be found in the open office layout. In the news, there have been stories about how a recent study showed that the open office is no longer an efficient, productive layout. Much was made of this study, too. In effect, all this coverage said, “The Open Office is Dead.” However, we beg to differ. 

Yes, the arrangement and design of the office matter and can make things pleasant or dreadful depending. However, each company and its employees are completely unique. Not every type of office design will work for all companies. In other words, the open office still has a viable spot in workplace design and can still be highly effective if the space has been designed with employees’ needs in mind. 

What is an Open Office? 

Some may still be wondering exactly what an open office is. We’ll dive in just enough to give you the right idea on this concept. 

The traditional idea of an open office was everyone working in one large open space. There were no walls or barriers (aside from cubicle dividers), and all resources were also shared. This concept is very out of touch with the modern office. 

A modern open office is an office that’s not divided by barriers (though there may be walls, privacy pods, etc., used in the space). There may be separate work zones set up for different styles of working and different tasks. Employees are generally not assigned to one specific workstation. Instead, they can move around through the work zones as they go through their day. 

This means employees have more flexibility in where and how they work. Some may find it more comfortable and easier to focus in a quiet zone, while others are inspired by the noisy discussions that go on with teams. Each person is unique in how they approach their tasks each day and what works best for them. The open office layout, the modern version, provides the flexibility many employees crave. 

How to Make the Open Office Design More Engaging

There are three main elements that contribute to making the workplace more meaningful for employees: 

Design: must be flexible to provide employees with choices on where they work. Innovative companies tend to provide their employees with more choices around when and where to work. The ability to be flexible makes a great deal of difference for employees—in a very positive way. 

Noise management: this is a big one with an open office layout. In a flexible open office layout, employees have the ability to find a quiet place to work. Yet, they also can find a place to collaborate with team members, too, in a place where they can talk and display some energy in the discussion. 

Access: productive employees require fast access to resources and people. This means resources need to be readily accessible and easily found, so employees can stay connected and supplied. This is essential to making a business successful. 

As you can see, the open office isn’t dead. There’s still a way to implement this type of layout and create an inspiring, innovative, productive environment for most employees. 

What’s changing is the relationship between workers and the office. 

The Office is a Place to Connect

Employees see the office as a place to make meaningful connections with their team. In this respect, face-to-face meetings are seen as more valuable than video meetings. What’s more, chance meetings are also more difficult to have online. These are what spurs employees to head to the office. 

Increased Flexibility

Employees are also looking for an increase in flexibility in their workplaces. An open office layout can work to provide the very flexibility employees are looking for. 

More employees are looking for flexible work arrangements rather than the traditional perks offered by their company. Flexibility is seen as more valuable to most of the perks that were once seen as key in attracting the top talent

New Office Dynamics

Another reason the open office layout is still valuable is that employees are starting to use their workspaces in different ways. The office is more than just a place to go and sit in one place to work all day long. 

Employees enjoy the daily interactions with their counterparts throughout the day. When everyone’s sitting in an assigned workstation, these visits are not possible. However, the open office, which gives everyone the flexibility to move around during the day, provides the perfect backdrop for those important discussions. 

The open office layout provides spaces where employees can comfortably connect without disturbing those around them. The result is improved communication, collaboration, and more overall success for the business. 

What Does All This Mean? 

The open office is definitely not dead. Instead, the open office is being redefined and evolving to meet the needs of employees. This ultimately serves the needs of the company, too. 

When employees have high job satisfaction and feel happy and confident in their work, their productivity increases. This can mean more growth for the business.

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