10 January 2014

I recently read an article criticizing open plan office spaces. The main gist of the argument was that, “People need quiet in order to be productive.”  Whilst I agree that you need to remove distractions in order to encourage productivity, I believe that the people who are pulling apart the open plan layout are missing the point.

The benefits of an open plan office far outweigh the potential negatives, in my opinion. I have found that the best way to build a business is by building a community and in the best communities people interact with each other and get to know one another. In a tight-knit community, for example, people look out for each other and you can rely on the old lady at number 7 to keep an eye on your house for you while you’re away!

It’s the same in the workplace; ultimately, you want all the different types of personalities and skillsets to be mingling and interacting with each other. It’s a chance for them to get to know people they might not usually get the chance to hang out with. It’s important that the office layout encourages people to approach other departments and to be comfortable just walking over and asking someone else for their input.

There’s also another reason why open plan works better than closed cubicles – it keeps the energy at the highest level! Yes, it’s also important to have spaces where your employees can switch off and get some peace and quiet in order to relax but why not have both? That’s the beauty of designing your workplace yourself. You can have one space full of energy and buzz where people knuckle down and perform and another where they can zone out, switch off and change their state completely.

Personally, I think that allowing people to collaborate and converse is great for business. Where do you stand on the open plan debate?

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