Open office plans are always raved about and have been on the trend for ages now. Most business leaders seem to think that the employees would love to work in an open space office as it would promote ~openness~. Here’s the thing though.
Studies have shown that employees take more measures to avoid dealing with openness.
There has been a hike in employees sending emails to one another although being next to each other. More and more employees are purchasing noise-cancelling headphones to block out the noises at work. The measures people take to isolate themselves are quite amusing.
Studies have shown that the open office plans raise employee stress levels, trigger more sick leaves, and promote anxiety and depression. Team members may also struggle to collaborate or have productive interactions. Having their own space could have prevented the feeling of being watched and the spread of germs among employees pretty easily.
However, before we delve into why open office plans might not be the best idea, we need to address the more pressing question.
What exactly makes an open office plan open?
By most designers and architect’s definition, it is the removal of walls and partitions. The office spaces are divided by panels and when you lean over, you probably could see your colleague snacking. Yes, this may be cost-effective and facilitate communication but the noise generation and perpetual need to look productive to not lose out to the rest of their colleagues....
Is this the outcome business leaders expected?
In order to reap the benefits of the open office plan, there should still be some walls and partitions. One cannot do away with walls completely. The allocated areas for meetings and collaboration could help with the noise pollution and help the team with anchoring attitudes to certain locations. A room for collaboration could ease the team into their creative flow as they have conditioned themselves in thinking like that.
Given all that has been said, it is safe to say that the open office concept is not something that could be fully embodied and that a hybridized open + traditional office concept could enable better relations and communication between the team members.
In a hybridised world, one could have a meeting in a room when the entire office is busy and rushing with a deadline to maintain the quiet, conducive environment. It also provides room to turn around and have an impromptu meeting with team members who are working on the same project.
That way, there would be better employee satisfaction, the employees would feel more comfortable and this would result in better productivity among them!