Open Office vs Closed Office Space – What are the Pros and Cons?
When deciding what type of office space works best for your organization, you are most often deciding between an open office vs closed office space – which is better for your team? Ultimately this will depend on the needs of your company and role of the employees. Open plan spaces can more easily lend themselves to work that requires more collaboration and flexibility, while closed office spaces are great for those who need extra focus and privacy to complete their work.
The article below goes into some advantages and disadvantages to both types of space.
What are Open and Closed Offices?
Office plan offices are characterized by large rooms with rows of desks where employees sit close to each other with little partitions or separators. They tend to have spaces where employees can congregate, such as open kitchen areas, couches and areas with breakout seating.
They’re very popular at the moment – especially with start-ups and small businesses that rely on cross-team collaboration and have lower budgets for physical office space per employee.
In a closed office teams and individuals are often given extra space and privacy with use of screens or fixed walls to create separate office space.
This is considered a more traditional type of working environment.
Open vs Closed Office Space
Open Office Pros
Flexible and Customizable
Open plan layouts can be more easily rearranged as teams change and the organization grows – this type of layout is therefore often preferred by start-ups and small businesses which see accelerated growth and changes to their company structure.
Cheaper and Cost-effective
Open plan offices are more cost-effective. Providing a workable space for all employees is far cheaper than furnishing separate offices and cubicles. They can also fit in more employees and allow them to invest more in open-plan spaces such as break rooms and soft seating areas.
Foster communication and collaboration across teams
By breaking down walls and grouping stations together, teams and individuals are made more accessible to each other. It is much easier to walk up to your colleagues desk, or meet in one of the seating areas to get feedback on ideas and collaborate on projects.
These types of spaces also offer more opportunities for chance encounters between employees that are conducive to building stronger relationships, better sense of community and lead to more creative teams.
Open Office Cons
Can be noisy and distracting
The biggest drawback of open plan spaces is that they can get very noisy – imagine having a sales team, right next to accounting! The first team requires to use their phone very often, while accounting teams need higher levels of concentration as their work needs to be accurate.
It is also easier to get distracted by a colleague asking a question, or listening in to others conversations!
There is little to no privacy when colleagues sit side-by-side all day. This can be especially draining for employees who got accustomed to working from home in the pandemic.
Open spaces can be intimidating for those who are more introverted, while others dislike being watched all the time.
Meetings must be moved to walled spaces
With open spaces there is more need for advance planning when it comes to arranging meetings. To avoid disturbing other colleagues, or discuss matters that need a certain level of privacy, employees must schedule meetings in advance to ensure they can book adequate meeting rooms.
Closed Office Pros
Storage and personalization
A closed office offers more space for employees to have drawers and overhead bins for storage and personal items.
They allow for more personalization, such as family photos or ornaments, that make employees feel more comfortable in their work space.
Closed offices lend themselves more to focused work, as they’re less noisy and colleagues are less likely to come up to your desk or ask questions when they have to navigate walls and doors.
This type of office is much better for those who tend to be distracted by conversations and need a quiet space to focus on their work.
Some roles require privacy and access to secure knowledge. Those who need to have a lot of meetings and conversations in private, such as senior managers or HR personnel, will benefit more from closed office space.
Closed Office Cons
Closed offices are more costly. They require more space per employee and need more furniture to fill the space.
Less opportunity for collaboration and chance encounters
In closed offices there is less opportunity for chance encounters, which often lead to colleagues developing closer relationships encouraging trust between teams allowing more room for collaboration and creativity.
It is much harder to establish relationships with colleagues who work behind closed doors most of the time!
When deciding what type of office space works best for your organization, you are most often deciding between an open office vs closed office space – which is better for your team? Read our article to learn about the advantages and disadvantages to both types of space.