Open plan offices have become the norm in the UK in the last couple of decades. In the past, closed offices dominated. These days, the democratic feel of an opened up space is the preferred layout in most organisations.
However, not everything about an open plan office is desirable. What are the positives (and negatives) of turning an office space into an open one? And what exactly is a more flexible office – the so-called smart office?
Open plan offices foster a culture of communication and collaboration. Bosses work alongside junior team members. In particular, innovation-based businesses were early adopters of open plan. It helps with teamwork and staff cohesion.
In business cultures like these, good ideas can come from anybody in the company hierarchy. An open plan office certainly helps to level the hierarchy between senior staff and other staff. This allows for more voices to be heard.
In short, they are great for building team-focussed cultures as opposed to top-down ones.
Another key advantage of the open plan office is that it can improve the flow of information. For example order enquiries, order processing, purchasing, logistics and post-sale after care can be handled in one place. This offers a simple sequence within a business structure.
In an open plan office dedicated teams can still handle each phase. They are close enough to one another to pass information on. Either formally or informally. This can help weed out potential problems before they arise.
Chiefly, this is all done to promote a greater frequency of interaction between employees due to their physical proximity.
An open plan office also means that lighting and heating costs can be shared within a single space, so they tend to be money savers, too.
Despite the key advantages of open plan offices, there are downsides to consider, too.
For example, they can be busy and sometimes noisy environments. Some staff complain that they suffer from a certain loss of concentration.
With so many verbal and visual interactions between employees, too much communication can be a problem. This causes distractions and loss of productivity.
Background noise, generated by an open plan office, can mean that customers receive a less than professional service. One or other on the call may become distracted.
As well as the distracting side of open plan offices, there is a problem with privacy.
Staff and managers need to communicate in confidential ways sometimes. This can’t always be easy to achieve in a shared environment. Equally, commercially sensitive data needs to be handled privately. This can lead to problems of security if the office is too open.
Productivity can also suffer because germs are spread more easily between staff members in a shared space. This can lead to more time being taken off work for health reasons.
Finally, open plan offices may feel more democratic. But there is often no differentiation between senior members of staff and those lower in the hierarchy. Ironically, high-flyers can end up feeling undervalued and therefore choose to leave for a new opportunity. They miss being surrounded by the trappings of success.
The open plan office is evolving to meet the demands of modern businesses. Such offices take the best of open planned spaces and mitigate for their many disadvantages. Hot desking and smartphone connectivity are now favoured. In today’s offices, mixed use spaces provides the best of both worlds.
These include open plan areas for collaborative working. Cubicles and meeting rooms are useful for private talks or work that requires calmness, concentration and a contemplative approach.
In summary, the key to the so-called smart office is flexibility. Ultimately, this means being able to evolve rapidly to suit changing business needs.
And, that’s one thing that Flexspace is good at – meeting the needs of the modern business. So give us a call on 0800 033 4444 and let’s see whether we can form the perfect Smart Office around you and your colleagues.
You can rent a Flexspace unit for a minimum of 12 months all the way up to 10 years or more.
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Flexspace have helped me turn my little dream into a profitable reality! Being a small business owner looking for premises can sometimes be daunting but Loraine and the Flexspace team helped me with every step in finding the perfect solution for my business and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The team go above and beyond to look after their tenants and nothing is every too much trouble. Premises are clean, well maintained and I always feel extremely safe when I’m at work even on those dark winter nights! I have highly recommended Flexspace to fellow business owners – a hidden gem in Peterborough!
Our offices in Blackpool are easily accessible for the people we support, some of whom are in wheelchairs, there is a ramp to the entrance door and disabled facilities. Our offices are nicely decorated, comfortable and affordable.
Our Area Manager is very helpful and readily available should we have any queries or problems. The public areas are kept clean, safe and presentable. She goes over and above the call of duty for the clients.
I have enjoyed renting from Flexspace for the last 3 years and hopefully will be there for a good few years to come. Found the staff very helpful and easy to get on with.
Excellent service, the Centre team are happy to assist with meeting rooms at short notice. They ensure that repairs are carried out quickly. I needed several new sockets in my room and these were provided very quickly with no inconvenience to myself.
The staff are friendly, professional and knowledgeable and nothing is ever a problem.
Flexspace Dunfermline has had a big impact on the growth of my business over the last 3 years. Offering the ability to offer in-house training to clients with the use of the meeting room facilities. The team always ensure that the rooms are set up to the exact requirements I need to deliver the training to my clients. From equipment set up to the supply of refreshments to my delegates.
Having a dedicated team onsite that are always on hand to assist with anything from reception to administration is a real benefit to my business. The staff are always very approachable and nothing is ever too much for them when I ask for their assistance.
RDM Group has occupied buildings on the Bilton Industrial Estate for over 22 years and we have seen many owners in our time. In 2007 ‘Flexspace’ acquired the estate and through their resident manager, we have seen a dramatic improvement in the overall operation of the estate together with a continual investment and improvement program into the buildings, security and facilities which makes the estate an extremely good place for our company to be located.
Big thanks to you and Alan for your efficient handling of the whole process.
Many thanks for your support in our move into new office space, everything has been really smooth and easy even down to ensuring locks were changed and secure.
The facilities are excellent and spotlessly clean throughout and it’s so helpful for us to have access to additional rooms for booking for training events when we need it. We are so glad we made the move into a really pleasant and well maintained working environment.