Open offices are becoming a new standard for office buildings around the world. No longer are workers tied to cubicles and stuffy offices. For many businesses, open layouts foster greater creativity and collaboration, at a fraction of the average office expense.
But closed office layouts are not without their benefits. While open spaces are great for networking, some may prefer to work in private or to have their own personal space.
The office layout you choose matters. We’ll compare the two popular office options, weigh their costs and benefits, and suggest which type of office your business should choose.
What is an open office layout?
An open office layout (also known as an open-plan office) refers to an office space design that removes boundaries between two workers, such as cubicles or walls. While there may still be private offices and conference rooms, the goal of an open office layout is to cultivate a greater sense of collaboration and creativity within a team.
Over the past decade, the open office design has become a worldwide movement. From budding startups to major companies such as Facebook and Google, open office layouts have come to define the modern business. Business software and services company, Sage, estimates that 80% of US businesses use open offices as their preferred arrangement.
What is a closed office layout?
In contrast, a closed office layout is a type of office that is secluded from other offices by a wall or cubicle. Employees in a closed office have more privacy and greater control over their work environment.
While closed office layouts were popular before the 2000s, they have gradually been replaced by open office layouts. This is because of a number of factors, including rising monthly rates and changing mentalities in the office.
Pros and Cons of an Open Office
- Quicker communication – Open office layouts make it easy to ask simple questions or hold impromptu meetings. Some companies will even have its employees share the same table. Learn more about activity-based working here.
- Greater collaboration – With quicker communication comes more collaboration. The design of the space empowers employees to work together on projects.
- Cost-effective – Compared to a traditional office space lease, open office plans manage to save on space as well as money. Businesses can then use those savings towards marketing or operations.
- Background noise – Open offices can occasionally be frantic environments (particularly during the morning and afternoon). For those that need silence, the background noise can be a source of distraction.
- Lack of privacy – If you need to talk about sensitive or confidential information, an open office is not the place to do so. Nearby workers may overhear your conversations or see your laptop screen if it’s left unlocked and unattended.
Pros and Cons of a Closed Office
- Privacy – One of the main reasons for renting a close office is to protect your valuable belongings and information. Particularly for businesses in the financial, law, or healthcare industries, security is vital.
- Personalization – Private offices allow companies to brand the walls, doors, and desks with their own colors and imagery. Customizing the look of an office can have a major impact on an employee’s creativity and work ethic.
- Productivity – Although not true for everyone, many workers are more productive when they have a controlled, private environment. Private offices cut out environmental distractions (except the ones on a computer screen, or outside a window).
- Lack of interaction – Closed offices can cut people off from other companies or team members. Employees tend to stay and work in their offices for most of the day, and can lead to isolating experiences.
- Financial commitment – Private office companies can charge steeper prices, or demand yearly contracts (but Novel Coworking does not). For startups and small businesses, this can be a setback in the day-to-day operations.
How to choose an office layout for your business
Each company has a different culture and function. What may work well for one company is not guaranteed to work for another. With that said, some office layouts are more suitable for certain work processes.
Choose an open office layout if your company needs to communicate clearly and save money. This is especially crucial for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and startups. Open offices encourage greater teamwork and more creative solutions.
Choose a closed office layout if your company deals in sensitive information or your employees need privacy. Closed offices are also important for C-level executives and entrepreneurs that want to impress a professional image on their clients.
For a more in-depth comparison of the benefits of both closed and open office layouts, visit Novel Coworking’s plans page.