How to Select an Open Office or Private Office Layout

 In Architectural Walls, Design, Space Planning, Trends, Workstations / Cubicles

An open office layout allows co-workers to easily communicate with each other. The aesthetics are pleasing since even a small office can look spacious when it’s not sectioned off. About 80% of U.S. companies use the open office layout, yet the layout has its critics that are speaking out.  During 2018, a headline in the Chicago Tribune announced, “The open office plan is a disaster” while the Washington Post published an analysis proclaiming, “Open office plans are as bad as you thought.” Disruptions and a sense of impermanence are noted as a couple of the negatives.

It’s important to note that the open office layout works or falls short of expectations depending on these variables: the nature of the work to accomplish; a company’s culture; and whether or not an office space is planned well.  Read on to learn more about open offices versus private offices, and how a professionally designed layout can work well for your office space.

The Nature of the Work

A reason that open office plans may be getting negative reviews is that company executives and office managers will often make decisions based on popular trends instead of what is right for their specific situation.  For example, tech giants such as Apple and Google use an open office approach in their office spaces around the world. So if it’s right for these global brands, then it must be right for—

Hold on. It’s important to remember that a better way to lay out an office is to understand the nature of a company’s work and the need for collaboration and communication. Budgets matter and open offices typically cost less to maintain. If the existing physical space is open, then planning an open office can be an easy solution.  Think in terms of a grid or formula. The greater the need for collaboration, then the more an open office situation is right.  Highly personalized work that require individual conversations on completely different matters will require more boundaries in place.

A Team Approach

Consider an open office environment for small teams that are focused on bringing a project to life where the need for collaboration is high.  A small engineering firm that is building a robot or a creative firm like an ad agency that’s working on a specific account can benefit from an open office design and use of collaborative workstations.  The upside to this scenario is that team members have an easy time talking to each other and the open office arrangement is flexible and adaptable as projects come and go.  The downside however is that team members can feel like the arrangement is temporary with a “here today and gone tomorrow” kind of feeling. Also, individuals who need quiet to focus on their work are exposed to teammates’ conversations, phone calls, “out loud” thinking, and music that are a distraction while playing in the background.

Individualized Work

An architectural firm where partners spearhead their own projects or a law firm where individuals are tackling completely different cases can benefit from a more closed office with individual office desks.  In these scenarios, when private spaces become a necessity, panes of glass can be used in place of solid walls. Bookcases that are filled with research material along with dividers to deaden sound can delineate space.

Working in Open Groups

Rarely is a decision so straight-forward in today’s working world that an office either has to only have an open office plan or a closed office plan with private spaces and traditional doors. Today’s office furniture needs in seating and workstation options come with adaptability and flexibility.

A company that might have 200 or 300 employees can have an open office arrangement where groups are formed by department or logical tasks.  Accounting and finance can be in one open area while marketing can be in another. If the space is large enough, then using attractive dividers decorated with company milestones can act as boundary markers instead of installing solid walls.  Real estate brokerage firms and insurance companies can work with an open-private hybrid and design.  Hanging plants, light stands, or individual lounge chairs can create distinctive work areas. Creative office furniture like the Connection Zone or Co-op Lounge can carve out private spaces within an open office layout.

Designing an Open Office or Private Office Layout

Looking to design your own private office or open plan space?  Let our experts help you!  2010 Office Furniture has more than 45 years of experience working with some of the most prominent companies in Los Angeles and Orange County, including Southern California Edison, Irvine Chamber of Commerce, The Honda Center, UCLA, Bunim Murray Productions, Hollywood Park Casino, Living Spaces, W Hotels, Sony Pictures Studios, Dignity Health and more.  Share your project with us today and talk to us about a complimentary space planning consultation.

Image Source: Hon

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