It isn’t that “Traditional” or open-plan office designs are objectively and generally “bad”. It’s more that forcing either upon a company culture for which neither of their concepts was ever intended is a futile and wasteful effort.
What kind of company do you have? What exactly do you do? These questions should always supercede and override bottom-line considerations when choosing to map an office. If your layout isn’t proving itself conducive to anyone getting anything done, then you are dooming your business to eventually losing money as your products lose quality.
Take a little straight-talk about the pros and cons of open-plan offices into consideration before finalizing your layout. Your company’s future employees will thank you.
So, about that bottom line…
This is pretty simple, and it’s often regarded as an open-office plan’s greatest advantage: it’s cheap. Fewer walls means fewer individual rooms to network within infrastructure as they’re built and fewer separate spaces to maintain and furnish on an ongoing basis. That being said, think about what you’re subjecting your employees to, in the meantime. No barriers between individuals can and often will stifle creativity due to being bombarded with a flood of external stimuli and the feeling of always being exposed to watchful eyes. That promotes anxiety, not a relaxed exchange of ideas.
They may not promote privacy, but for the few companies in the world experiencing 100-200% annual growth that would support having to hire and employ more than 50 employees in short order, open-office plans accommodate rapid personnel changes much more effectively than traditional layouts.
When your turnover is suddenly that rapid, finite individual rooms are suddenly an utter hindrance. A multiple-floor office building may eventually be a preferable choice for any job that demands creativity and concentration for prolonged periods. As a temporary solution until the logistics and costs of a multi-floor office become more feasible, an open-office layout provides far greater wiggle room to make way for spatial adaptations among a growing team. Even so, they may not necessarily be great permanent directions, as opposed to stop-gap courses.
BUY IT FOR LOOKS?
Finally, there’s an arguably shallow aspect, but nevertheless, one worth taking into account: photogenically, open-office plans “look busier” than traditional layouts. That is a very marketing-friendly perk.
Overlooking an open-office plan exposes the image of an employee herd vibrating with activity, constantly busy efficiently working at…something. There’s always something going on, it seems, and it’s happening at an aggressively driven pace around the clock. They make for outstanding imagery for startups trying to send pictures of hotter-than-the-sun diligence and motivation to venture capitalists and curious media.
Keep this in mind when considering an open-office plan’s merits versus the pluses of a traditional layout: people do need their space. It isn’t just an undeniable physical reality, but an acknowledgement that any business driven by creativity and concentration needs for its employees to cultivate their own peace and quiet. Stodgy as they may seem to some companies, traditional separations have their value in terms of the luxury of being able to get away the more intrusive aspects of constant team together