Over many years, office design has evolved from a traditional floor plan of offices, filing areas, and work areas to open concepts that allow interaction among team members for faster collaboration on projects, as well as a sense of team and community. This evolution did more than allow for these interactions; it also allowed more employees to be able to work in the same (or smaller) square footage of traditional office space.
From the building’s perspective, it eliminated the need for a complicated system to deliver services such as heating, cooling, electrical, and data. However, the downside is that buildings are now occupied with more people than they were initially designed to hold. This includes issues with parking space at suburban office buildings, as well as having to resize heating, cooling, restroom capacities and electrical services.
Combining old and new office plans can help make the best workspace possible. Studies currently show that open workspace does have benefits. However, they have also identified the need for team rooms, conference areas, as well as private areas, that allow for employees to be able to have quiet time to work alone, with no interruption. While open areas allow for communication between team members, it can also be a problem when multiple teams work in the same open area. Further studies have shown that sound within this area can present a distraction and interrupt thought processes.
What works best for your building or organization? It depends on the business activity. For example, in a call center, it’s not uncommon to see workers looking for a quiet place to be able to communicate with clients. In an environment where there is project development by team members, the ability to communicate to solve problems and move to projects completion is a benefit to quicker completion. Overall, the best office design depends on the type of business you’re engaged in, with moderation within the open office concept that allows for needed private areas, so that all employees are able to work productively.