Lately, the movement towards building more open office space has been getting bad press. At the same time, savvy companies keep opening up their offices and reaping cost savings and productivity benefits. Here's why.
Higher Space Efficiency
Offices and cubes take up a great deal of space. When you give someone a 10 by 13 foot office, that space is blocked out for that single person and, as you add up all of those designated spaces along with all of the needed common areas, they turn into thousands of square feet. In fact, in many parts of the country, traditional cube-and-office build outs lead to offices with 225 square feet per employee. Open floor plan office space is usually much smaller, with some highly efficient ones approaching 100 square feet per employee. This can significantly reduce your occupancy costs.
In an open floor plan office, asking a question of a coworker can be as simple as turning around and talking to them. There are no halls to navigate and no doors to open. This tends to foster more communication and collaboration, letting your employees share ideas and get access to information that helps them do their jobs more productively.
Open floor plans generally do away with the strong visual reminders of hierarchy. They usually don't have bosses in large corner offices while entry level workers make do with half-sized cubicles. Instead, everyone gets access to the space they need, when they need it. This is a major benefit for organizations that are looking for office space that serves the preferences of the Millennial Generation, who do not value hierarchy.
An open office space is designed to fit no specific situation and to fit all situations at the same time. If you build it right, it will offer a mix of open workstations and collaboration spaces. While no space is specifically assigned, the mixture of options allows different working styles and working groups to find what they need. Today, a worker can sit at an open workstation and do what he needs to. Tomorrow, that same person can grab her two teammates and spend the day working together at adjacent spaces. Next week, they work from a client site, knowing that they aren't leaving a big private office empty. Next month, they join a six person group that takes over a small conference room. Open office space facilitates all of these work styles.
A Sense of Community
In a traditional office, it can be easy to go days or weeks without seeing a specific coworker and it's conceivable that a worker in a private office or a full-height cube could go an entire day without seeing anyone. An open office space makes that impossible. Simply seeing and hearing co-workers on a daily basis creates a greater sense of community. This can increase both retention and a sense of responsibility to the company, driving productivity and higher quality work product.
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