Finding a Balance: Open and Closed Office Spaces

Having a more productive office space is something that everybody can appreciate, because in order for an office space to aid productivity, as opposed to hindering it, it must necessarily create a more enjoyable environment. When it comes to identifying the causes for less than ideal productiveness, it is natural for us to look in the mirror for the culprit, but an outward perspective reveals that the design and layout of your work office could be limiting everyone’s productive potential.

Modern office designs have been rapidly moving in the direction of more open floor plans, a trend which results from a collective desire by everyone to work in more vibrant, inspiring office spaces that improve upon the bland, cubicle-filled offices of the past. However, recent studies suggest that improving office well-being and productivity can’t be so simply solved – open, coffee-shop style floor plans may seem like a sure-fire way to increase productivity across the board, but they too have their drawbacks. The old adage that “too much of anything is bad” rings especially true here.

Although an open floor plan naturally aids collaboration amongst coworkers, what it gains in collaborative benefits it loses in individual performance. Unless your business relies entirely on collaborative effort from top to bottom, privacy and silence are two features of an office space crucial for productivity. We can only handle so much “multi-tasking” before the task at hand begins to suffer, and an open floor design makes multi-tasking a near constant occurrence. The cubicles of the past may not be as picturesque as the bench-style spaces popping up in offices across the country, but their ability to help workers focus can’t be denied.

Granted, modern office designs are moving away from segregated floor plans and towards more open floor plans for a reason – cubicle style workspaces, despite their benefits, can become draining after a while. Too much of anything is bad, and closed-off work spaces are no different. The solution, then, is simple: in order to optimize the productivity of your work space, you must incorporate the benefits of both closed and open floor plans.

At The Artist Evolution, for example, we have both closed and open spaces in order to reap the benefits of both privacy and collaboration. Every morning we sit around a table for a team meeting, but when it comes time to work on personal tasks we break up into our own spaces to aid focus. A central water tank encourages movement throughout the office and a foosball table provides just the right amount of work-load relief and collaborative fun so we can return to tasks revitalized and ready to work.

Whether you prefer closed or open floor plans, the one takeaway is not to commit entirely to one or the other. Different offices should have different designs based on the type of work being done, but every office can benefit from finding the right balance between privacy and collaboration. Have you analyzed the layout of your workspace? If not, only a few changes could drastically increase office productivity and well-being.