How An Open Office Workspace Can Benefit Employees

With the millennial generation taking over the workplace, the traditional office design has begun to change. One way this is happening is with the transition to an open office concept.

So, what is an open office workspace? An open workspace is a floor plan that is focused on better utilizing office space to encourage spontaneous conversation and collaboration. It can range from lowering panel heights in cubicles to having no panels at all. It could also mean moving to a building with more windows, to allow more natural light. Other examples that we see in an open office layout are benching style workstations which are long shared desks (with employees having their own chair and computer).Another way we see open office layouts being used is by creating shared collaboration areas in the office where employees can easily go, to brainstorm and discuss any ideas they may have.

No matter what form the open office takes, one thing remains constant - the benefits they offer to employees and employers.

Benefit #1: Open Offices Are Cost Effective

Many small businesses are beginning to adopt an open office layout, because of the cost benefit that it brings. By using open office concepts such as benching, collaborative work areas and more shared space, businesses are able to utilize their space more effectively, resulting in the reduction of their economic footprint - lower utility bills and increase use of shared resources - printers, office supplies, etc.

Benefit #2: Open Offices Encourage Collaboration and Communication

Communication plays a vital role in the success of an organization. Yet, when employees are in a closed office environment, the opportunity for constant open communication is not always available. A closed office layout may provide employees with their own private working space, but when they want to collaborate, they will likely need to book a meeting room, which could slow down their workflow. Therefore, employees will be less likely to work as a team.

Alternatively, open offices are designed to encourage face to face communication and to break down any barriers that prevent the flow of open communication. By using an open concept floor plan, employees will feel free to ask questions and bounce ideas off one another. Employees will never have to feel awkward or uncomfortable for having to knock on a fellow employee's door or cubicle to have a discussion or book a meeting. Creating this constant flow of communication will help employees accomplish tasks faster.

With improved communication, employees will feel more comfortable collaborating with one another on projects. This collaboration will further foster a team environment, helping to eliminate any competitive feelings. When employees are given the opportunity to work together and collaborate, they will be more likely to come up with innovative ideas to help the business succeed.

Benefit #3: Open Office can Help Improve Employees' Well Being

An open office design provides employees with physical and mental health benefits that will help improve their productivity in the workplace. The physical health benefit can be seen in the increased movement employees have throughout the day when working in an open office.

When employees are in an open office environment, they are more likely to get up and move around. A study of 231 office workers found that people in an open office environment were 32% more active than workers in private offices. By being more active during office hours - employees were found to be less stressed.

The mental benefits that employees receive from open offices are related to the design elements. With lower cubicle panels and glass architectural walls, the open office layout allows for more light to flow throughout the office. By employees having access to more natural light, they will receive the mental benefits such as a boost in energy and positivity - helping prevent employees from feeling the stress from the work environment.

Benefit #4: Open Office Reduce Hierarchy

Working in a closed office environment reinforces a vertical organizational hierarchy. With a more formal structure, employees who are not as high up in the organization, may be less willing to start a conversation to share their ideas.

An open office layout encourages an "open door" policy. Managers are often put in the same general space as their team or have offices that use glass walls which helps reduce the hierarchy mindset. This will help employees feel more comfortable in approaching their managers and collaborating with them.

Have You Made the Switch?

Changing the office landscape may seem dramatic, but it is important for business owners to take it into consideration. When evaluating your office floor plan, consider the benefits of making the switch to an open office layout, if you haven't already. An open office is a quality workspace design that will help increase the productive of your workers and success of your business.