Many developed businesses now prefer to build an office for their employees that is devoid of walls, also known as an “open-space” office. At first glance, it appears to be a simple and convenient way to organize working weekdays. But is that the case? Is there any effective way to increase employee productivity in such an environment?

According to the study, employees in the UK spend about 36 hours working per week in 2021, which is significantly more than the previous year. Some work in large offices, while others struggle to complete their daily tasks in stuffy and small spaces shared with coworkers.

All of these issues contribute to fatigue, job dissatisfaction, constant annoyance, and a variety of health problems. According to statistics, approximately 1.6 million office workers in the United Kingdom are afflicted with work-related illnesses. The use of open-plan offices has recently become popular, but are they as effective as they appear?

What Is An Open-Space Office?

An open-space office is a setting designed by a student of the Faculty of Architecture named Frank Duffy centuries ago. This format became popular in the United Kingdom in the 1990s.

More than 49 % of offices in the United Kingdom now function in open-plan spaces as this work environment model appears to be a useful single work platform, uniting all office employees.

Are Open-Plan Offices Good For Productivity?

Open-space workplaces, like any other setting, offer advantages and disadvantages.

The Advantages Of Open-Space Offices

Consider the benefits of working in an open-plan layout:

  • Improved communication. If an employee is constantly surrounded by his coworkers, he only needs to communicate with them. This simplifies business processes and aids in the resolution of day-to-day business issues;
  • Cost-effectiveness. A single large room is less expensive to maintain than an office with separate rooms;
  • Improved operational monitoring. The boss can observe what employees do, how much time they devote to specific tasks, how frequently they communicate, and how they solve problems;
  • Transparency and information. All questions are discussed aloud in the open-space offices. These discussions involve the engagement of all the company’s team participants. As a result, all employees are well-informed about the company’s goals and relevant state of activities. This enables the possibility to share ideas, contribute to project development and the company’s growth;
  • Gossip has no place here. When you are constantly surrounded by other people, it is difficult to gossip about the boss or colleagues. The open-space workplace creates impediments to such destructive behaviour.

The Drawbacks Of Open-Space Offices

What are the disadvantages of working in such offices for both managers and employees?

  • Extremely high noise level. It is the most significant disadvantage of working in an open space. Sometimes such an office resembles a massive hive that never sleeps. According to a study conducted by Dutch scientists, 32% of office employees are irritated by high-profile conversations among colleagues, and 30% get annoyed with frequent phone calls all around them;
  • Conflicts. Household squabbles can involve anything, such as how the blinds are lowered, where misplaced pens go, and how many degrees the eternal source of contention – air conditioning – should be set to, etc.;
  • There is not any privacy. Introverts in open-plan offices will experience psychological distress, as sharing a workplace with a large number of other people who hear your conversations and know about the details of your life 5 days a week is not very comfortable;
  • Employees are more susceptible to illness. In open-space offices, half of the office becomes infected and is hospitalized, significantly increasing the company’s costs;
  • Problems with memory. The ability to remember a large amount of information deteriorates (due to distractions).

How To Boost The Efficiency Of An Open-Space Office?

The proper organization of open-type office space can preserve the positive properties of the room while maintaining working efficiency.

Establish The Ground Rules

Of course, it is impossible to eliminate all flaws in open space, but they can be significantly reduced. To accomplish this, you must first create your set of rules, which each worker must follow.

It will be a set of norms that will help you discipline the team, reduce dissatisfaction with one another, and create a more productive working environment.

Organize Your Area

After you have determined the basic needs of your employees, you will need to set up an office where they can work comfortably. If the majority of workers are concerned about noise levels, divide the space so that the people engaged in phone conversations are separated from those involved in documentation and working with numbers. Set up special rooms of silence where your employees can go at any time to focus on a critical task.

Establish A Meeting Time

Employees frequently have a lot of questions for the team leader. Moreover, they often discuss them right away at their workplace, distracting others.

This situation can be easily resolved through the arrangement of additional meetings. Set aside a specific location and time for such meetings. This differentiation will assist you in lowering the noise level in the team and making each employee more productive.

Reduce Noise Level

Identify all noise-producing items, such as a coffee machine or printer, and place them in separate rooms or corridors if possible. The noise level will be greatly reduced as a result.

Make sure that each employee has headphones on their tables so that they can listen to their favourite music while focusing on their work.

Define The Boundaries Between Your Personal And Professional Lives

Many employees enjoy talking about their evening plans or new books at work. If it does not interfere with the work process or other people who are not involved in the conversation, it is excellent.

This type of communication allows for a brief relaxation from daily activities. Such conversations, however, become a problem when the entire large team at an open-space office is forced to listen to someone’s phone conversation about a visit to the hairdresser or relevant store discounts. As a result, it is critical to talk about this with employees and offer them the chance to talk on the phone in the hallway or restroom.

Final Thoughts

The office is an excellent environment for implementing the company’s corporate culture. The company’s head management must also understand that workplace comfort equals lower staff turnover. A competent open-space office organization will not only save you money but also improve team communication and employee loyalty to the company.

Author bio:

Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay review service Trust My Paper and an author at custom writing company SupremeDissertations. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.

Image source: