The rate of office occupancy in America is slowly recovering. According to data, office occupancy rates in North America were at 47.5% in September 2022, giving a glimpse of hope for landlords and other stakeholders in the commercial real estate market.
However, most businesses and stakeholders who’ve seen the effects of hybrid and remote work on office occupancy rates and the use of offices by employees have pivoted to a new concept – open office spaces.
Open office spaces allow employees to interact with each other with minimal physical barriers, unlike typical cubicles used in most office setups. Open workspaces are changing the real estate market and businesses since they’re more cost-effective, offer more working space, and facilitate better team communication and collaboration.
But should your business adopt it? Here’s what you need to know about open workspaces and why they might be game-changers in companies and the commercial real estate market.
What is An Open Office Space?
An open workspace is an office layout where all employees work on the same floor in the same open space. An open office space makes cubicles redundant in favor of a more creatively engaging and collaborative workspace.
Open office spaces are common in co-working areas where businesses desire increased flexibility, productivity, and networking opportunities. Therefore, an open-plan office is suitable for employees who:
- Are keen on networking
- Love working in a fast-paced environment
- Are eager to build camaraderie and share ideas
- Thrive off socializing and communication
- Want to be part of a community or culture
The Various Types of Open Office Spaces
Open workspaces can be designed in a few different ways. Here’re the most common concepts:
This is the most common open office space layout. Fully open office space has almost no physical barriers, giving employees much freedom of movement.
This type of open office space is prevalent among modern companies where employees mingling with each other, sharing ideas, and choosing their most comfortable working spot helps boost productivity.
Fully open workspaces often boost the employee’s morale since they offer more socialization opportunities.
Partially open workspaces give a good balance between traditional cubicles and a fully open office plan. This open workspace uses half-sized cubicles to offer employees more privacy when working. It is very flexible and can accommodate a broader range of employee preferences.
The lower cubicles ensure the layout is still promoting a more open environment with better communication for employees who prefer such interactions while catering to the more siloed worker who likes sitting alone and focusing on their work.
An open workspace with a team-based structure provides desks, meeting rooms, and other equipment grouped for a particular group or team in the office. It’s the preferred layout for businesses keen to divide projects and tasks into groups.
This layout allows employees to have brainstorming sessions and conversations as a group working on a related task.
The Advantages of an Open Office Space
Open office spaces come with a ton of benefits. Here’re the most exciting ones for businesses and employees.
Open office spaces are more cost-effective than private offices and traditional cubicles. Businesses have to incur less overhead to ensure their employees have the necessary space and equipment to perform their duties.
Stakeholders within the commercial real estate market offer businesses fully-serviced open workspaces at a fraction of the cost it would take to set up individual desks and cubicle walls. These fully-furnished open workspaces can be rented as private offices inside a dedicated work building.
Businesses save on expensive installation costs for high-speed internet, common areas, multifunction copiers, and professional cleaning services.
Better Communication and Collaboration Between Workers
According to research, communication and collaboration between employees improve with proximity. Therefore, open office spaces provide a more conducive environment for worker communication and collaboration.
Open office spaces also suit freelancers and remote employees who would otherwise work from home. Self-employed workers can network and communicate with other creatives in these workspaces, benefitting their employers or businesses.
Open workspaces give employees more space and freedom to do work. They also look more aesthetically pleasing than closed-plan offices with high cubicles. Businesses still using closed-plan offices appear dated, which can potentially leave a negative impression on prospects visiting the premises.
Moreover, open office spaces give more usable space that can be used to add items and equipment that improve the work environment, boosting morale and productivity.
Open workspaces are very flexible. If the current layout is not working and productivity is slumping, you can quickly rearrange the layout, move a team or employee to a new area in the office, or bring teams closer together to encourage faster communication and collaboration.
You can also have employees choose which area in the office space they’re most comfortable working in to ensure peak productivity.
Improved Employee Satisfaction
Happy employees are more productive. Moreover, your business enjoys reduced turnover and an improved reputation.
Since employees can choose to work wherever they want with an open office plan, they build a stronger sense of satisfaction with the job, boosting their productivity and collaborative skills. You also get to develop a robust work community that is more effective and efficient.
The Disadvantages of an Open Office Space
Open office spaces are not suitable for every business. Here’re some disadvantages that might deter you from adopting the concept.
The increased noise and distractions are the downsides of improving brainstorming and communication in an office. For employees who prefer working in a tranquil environment, the increased noise can substantially affect their performance.
Your business can offer noise-canceling headphones for such employees or assign quiet zones where they can find fewer distractions during work. Many locations offer private office space in New York City
Open office concepts have very little privacy since there are no individual workspaces. Employees working on sensitive projects may lack a place to perform their duties without coworkers noticing what they’re doing.
Moreover, some employees may prefer working in private, making a more traditional office environment better for them.
Faster Spread of Germs and Diseases
Due to the lack of barriers, shared resources, and close conversations, open workspaces can be thriving grounds for spreading germs and diseases such as the common cold. Organizations have to promote better hygiene practices to protect their employees, who are more predisposed.
Find the Best Solution for Your Business
Open workspaces are trendy, functional, and a powerful way to encourage communication and collaboration within a business. However, one type of open office layout may be better suited for your business than another. Contact a professional today and get advice on which solution you should adopt.