Did you know that open plan office layouts can create significant problems for workers? If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve seen the arguments against it. However, you need to read between the lines in some of these studies. Most people don’t know that in the early days, the term “open plan” was used for all office designs that didn’t have private offices with “real” walls – and that included cubicle floor plans!
Today, most people consider the term open plan to mean benching or other workstation setups that have low dividers, or even no panels at all. They use the term “closed plan” both for actual cubicles and for architectural walls that create separate workspaces for individuals, which can be deceiving as the average cubicle is about a tenth the size of a regular office and not at all the same thing!
An Australian study about the health effects of “open plan” offices compiled data that showed higher stress levels, elevated blood pressure, and more conflict in office environments where walls are lacking – meaning open office spaces caused problems! The doctor interviewed regarding the study said lack of proper physical barriers/boundaries was the problem, saying:
“The high level of noise causes employees to lose concentration, leading to low productivity, there are privacy issues because everyone can see what you are doing on the computer or hear what you are saying on the phone, and there is a feeling of insecurity.”
So how do you manage space constraints with cost effective employee benfits?
Since we can’t throw reducing the average office’s real estate footprint out the window, compromises have to be made. The main problems to be addressed when dealing with an office created with an open floor plan are, as noted:
- High noise level causing distraction and lowering productivity
- Lack of visual and audible privacy making workers feel stressed
Offices with little or no panel privacy are at highest risk for employee dissatisfaction. Our panel extenders (which can be included with cubicle orders) could be a lifesaver – they can make cubicle walls taller and increase their noise blocking ability. This helps immensely with both issues, and could be the answer to all of your problems!