Open Plan vs Closed Plan, what office layout works for you?

Open plan? Closed plan… it seems that everyone has a view on what office layout works best. Of course, as every business is different the office layout really needs to reflect the specific requirements of the team and work, to create an optimal working environment.

So, how do you know what office layout is right for your business?

At Source One we design office space for a wide range of clients across many sectors and know that before designing a workspace you need to understand what are your priorities. Based on our experience we have put together a few key points to highlight some advantages of both open and closed plan layouts, which will help you when deciding what would work best for your business.

Open plan office layouts

Open plan office layout

For many years, the conventional wisdom has been that open office floor plans encourage a creative, sharing and dynamic working environment.

At Source One, we have an open plan office layout, but that is not to say it works for everyone. Here are some of the key benefits…

  1. Going for an open plan office can be very cost effective for the business, as it usually requires less costly walls & partitioning and there is less space lost to corridors.

  2. Similarly, open plan workspace is far easier to reorganise, whether that be for fitting in new equipment or team members. As businesses often grow and expand, an open plan provides a form business future proofing. Whereas, future adjustments in a closed office layout can often more difficult and expensive as walls, partitions, lighting and other power & data may need relocating.

  3. An open layout undoubtedly enables departments and teams to communicate and collaborate with others quickly and easily, hopefully encouraging greater levels of teamwork across the business. It is also believed that open plan formats can stop team members/departments feeling isolated and encourage a broader business view as opposed to ‘silo’ thinking.

    As Steve Jobs once said, ‘Ideas don’t happen in the Boardroom, they happen in the corridors’. Ok yes, I know we have said corridors are a waste of space, but the principle remains that open plan encourages micro-meetings for teams, and ideas can bounce from person to person, creating a more informal, happy work setting.

  4. Not surprisingly, with less walls communication can all be far quicker. Faster communication is achieve as people are able to ask questions quickly, discuss issues and find solutions together… after all, a problem shared is a problem halved!

  5. Nothing says ‘open door’ policy better than there not being a door! Team leaders and managers sitting with their teams, rather than in a separate office can create better managed, more effective teams… it certainly reduces the ‘us and them’ scenario.

  6. In recent years there has been a move towards more flexible work practises, whether this be agile working, remote working or job sharing. An open plan office enables a business to support flexible working and maximise its space in an efficient way via the introduction of shared workspaces, hot desking, ‘landing areas’ and the like… something a closed plan format could not achieve.

  7. The development of team building in an open plan office can be further enhanced with the use of innovative solutions such as meeting booths which encourage small meetings with less disturbance on others in the space.
Acoustic meeting booth

Closed plan office layouts

Closed plan office layout

Often dismissed as an old fashioned approach during the rise of the open plan concept, the closed plan office still offers many benefits to businesses of which, first and foremost, is privacy.

  1. Whether it is a particular team or department or the whole business, there can be a lot of extremely confidential work being carried out. As a result, privacy can be an overriding concern with an office layout and as such a closed office plan allows for individuals and teams to have their own private workspace. It is also far easier to add increased security such as lockable doors and cupboards.

  2. A reduction in office noise is also sighted as one of the big benefits of a closed plan office. Walls and separate workspaces simply reduce the noise and therefore can play a significant part in enhancing concentration and improve productivity.

  3. Separate spaces and walls also mean that there is far less requirement for investment in noise reducing products that you typically find in today’s open plan offices… screens, partitions, acoustic ceiling tiles, acoustic wall panels.

  4. Separate/private workspace means that individuals or teams can take ownership of their workspace, customising it and making it more personal to them. This personalisation can have a great impact on the happiness and productivity of those in closed working environments.

  5. Some businesses prefer to have a clear workplace hierarchy, which can be easily identified by everyone that walks into the office. A closed plan would mean that most managers will have their own office, and the department is sat separate from them, which can be great for individuals to identify chains of communication, rather than taking the ‘whoever is closest’ approach, which is common in open plan.

  6. It can be argued that the general health of employees is better in closed plan workspaces, as coughs and colds are not as easily spread. Of course, you cannot prove that this is the case, but you are probably less likely to catch a cold from someone if you have your own office!

Does it have to be one or the other?

Clearly both layouts have benefits and one may be more suited to your business than the other. However, it is just as likely that a blended approach may work best, giving you the best of both worlds.

This is where an office interiors expert like Source One can really help you optimise your workspace. Combining our knowledge and expertise with computer aided design, we can develop a layout that will work for your business and team.

What’s more, we can advise on a range of solutions including office partitions, noise reducing acoustic panels, meeting booths, office furniture and fittings to create a practical and highly effective workplace.

Office fit out & refurbishment experts

Source One Consulting brochure

Since 2002 Source One have been working with business across the UK on fit-out and refurbishment projects of all sizes.

We work with a wide range of business including offices,  commercial, retail, education (schools & colleges), health (surgeries etc).

Find out more about Source One by downloading our brochure or our case studies

Or contact us on 08456 031 585.