Should companies really have an open office?

6th Dec 2016
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In architectural terms, the open office concept is an arrangement that makes use of large spaces and minimises enclosed office cabins. Most present-day startups prefer to have open offices rather than the traditional commercial setups to make sure all the employees can keep in touch with each other as well as senior executives throughout the day. They believe that open offices generate a sense of camaraderie among all the employees and enhance the information flow, which ultimately leads to higher production and better results.

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

Open offices and their relevance

It's not that the open offices or open plan offices were never used in the past. They've been around since the time of the Industrial Revolution. Open offices are different from the traditional office setups and work like a gem for young startups. According to the International Management Facility Association, almost 67 percent employees in developed economies like the US work in open offices. India is not far behind on this list, thanks to its growing startup ecosystem.

If you're planning to launch your next venture soon, you should give open offices a serious thought. Before you do so, take a close look at their pros and cons and then decide whether they're worth giving a try or not.

Pros of an open office

  1. They're cheaper. Since there's no separate cabin system, businesses can save a huge amount of money by going with open plan offices. They're much more flexible than the traditional offices and can fit in new employees (if need be) without any hassle. That's one of the major reasons why businesses that have recently started their operations prefer to go with open offices.
  2. They facilitate effective communication and collaboration among employees. Open offices foster more employee interaction and enable them to work together on different projects. Cross-team collaboration and inter-department communication become extremely easy and hassle-free, which leads to quick turnaround time and overall good business results.
  3. It is easy to supervise different teams. One of the best things about open offices is that they allow managers to supervise different teams in a better way than the traditional business setups. Furthermore, they can monitor different employee activities and keep a close eye on work progress.

Cons of open offices

  1. Workplace distraction. One of the best things about open offices is that it cultivates workplace friendships and strengthens bonding among employees. However, at times due to friendly relations and informal chats, the floor can become a bit too noisy and create a distraction, which may put adverse impacts on the production.
  2. The sense of resentment. No matter how talkative an employee is, he wouldn't like to give up on his privacy. Due to regular managerial supervision and monitoring, sometimes employees can feel paranoid and suffer lack of workplace motivation. It's not good for the overall business growth at all.
  3. Bacterial infection. According to a study, large open spaces filled with a lot of employees are breeding grounds for bacterial infections and diseases. Once any employee gets ill in open offices, chances of other employees getting exposed to the same illness are higher than the traditional office setups.

In the end, it's all about how you want to forge ahead and make a difference. Companies like Reliance Industries, Facebook, Paytm, and many others latched on to the open office concept and witnessed great results. You can also do the same and figure out whether open offices are really worth the hype or not.

What's your opinion about open offices? Please comment below and let us know your feedback.

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