Depending on who you ask, open work spaces are the best thing to come along since sliced bread, or they’re the devil’s invention to sow chaos and discord among employees. Fair-minded managers and efficiency experts say that the open office space plan can be both a blessing and a curse; it all depends on how it’s structured and supported. Remember that the original purpose of the open office was to bust employees out of their mind-numbing cubicles to increase their satisfaction and efficiency. The jury is still out as to whether this has succeeded one-hundred percent. My own office space has both open and closed areas. Here’s a look at the pros and cons to help you see what you might do if you’re considering an open office space:
On The Plus Side
Germany pioneered the open work space back in the 1950’s. It didn’t catch on in the United States until around 2000. Recent surveys show that nearly seventy percent of US office workers are now in open space instead of corralled in a cubicle. Collaborative work spaces are all the rage, from Silicon Valley to the Rust Belt.
Employers find open work spaces reduce their overhead because they minimize the costs of equipment and office space. Cubicle material can get expensive when you put up a lot of them. It’s also easier to chart an employee’s progress when they are out in plain sight instead of holed up in some dark corner. I recently filled my own office space with some Sea Gull Lighting, which added my style as well as some solid light to my work area.
Open office spaces are believed to grant a sense of shared responsibility among employees because they are perceived as less rigid and more mellow in atmosphere. Coworkers are better able to collaborate in an open space, rather than have to go hunt someone down in their office or cubicle. So, creativity and productivity are given a boost.
A sense of community is important for employees, so that they feel part of a bigger picture than just their own day to day duties and responsibilities. It’s hard to promote the concept of teamwork when your workers are cooped up in separate cubicles all day long, without the chance to communicate openly with each other. There’s only so much that email and texting can do to replace face to face contact and brainstorming! A feeling of camaraderie comes with open work spacing, which in turn helps to boost company morale and gives employees an added impetus to do well and keep a positive attitude about their goals and projects.