Workplaces are on the move—literally. We have seen the trend tiptoeing into our daily office life for some time now, but it seems 2015 may be the year of the complete office overhaul. The original open office concept was conceived in the 1950’s by a team in Hamburg, Germany—they thought it would facilitate communication.
With almost 70% of all offices embracing this open floor plan, we assume it’s working, but is it really? Some results are showing otherwise. There are so many open office concepts that employers are now embracing—some more interesting and creative than others.
So, let’s look at the top office layouts for 2015 and why they work—and why they have some employees running and hiding in their cubicle:
The Open Office
Here’s the concept behind crumbling the walls of the cubicle: Open offices are supposed to improve workflow and communication. Sounds reasonable right? Perhaps not.
This article in Digiday, notes that modern, hip agencies are embracing this open-office trend. They cited improved communication, collaboration, and speed of work, as reasons to tear down those pesky cubicle barriers.
They also noted that agency leaders were seeing positive benefits and increased productivity as a result of this shift. But what about personal privacy? What about making confidential phone calls and the like? Let’s look how open this concept really is to change, while keeping office employees content.
Downfalls Of The Open Office Trend
Google the words ‘open office’ and you will see that the first page results are all headings like, ” Why the Open Office has to Die”, “Why the Open Office has Failed”, and ” Victims of Open Office Pushing Back”. Yikes! Those are some pretty dramatic headlines for something inanimate.
It seems that not everyone is open to this out-of-the-box office concept. Here are the biggest downfalls that most are citing:
- One Forbes article cites that open offices allow germs to flow freely, hurting employees health
- Productivity and job satisfaction are down thanks to lack of privacy
- There is no space that is truly ‘yours’
- Inhibited creativity because all eyes are on you
- Different work styles are not recognized
Some Walls May Be Better Than None
As a back lash of employees complain about feeling too open, combined with complaints of too much noise, there is a new trend that is being created— finding a happy medium. Yes, it seems that everyone ran to ruin those office walls, yet now want some of them back. Modern offices designs are attempting to achieve a happy medium, without building back all the barriers.
Although, one Microsoft information technology team has completely bucked the trend and opted for closed doors, but with an open mind. Essentially, when they need to collaborate, they simply roll their chairs into the hallway and have open chats. When they are done, they wheel back into their private office.
Then on the other hand, instead of wheeling your chair everywhere, there are new office options on the horizon that combine comfortable break-out areas with leather recliners where staff can sit and collaborate comfortably. This open concept is being balanced with private phone rooms and closed-door meeting spaces. Indeed, it seems some walls are a must in the modern office.
Why The Open-Office Trend Is Here To Stay
Despite all the ups and downs of the open-office trend, it seems that it is here to stay in one manner or another. The luxury corner office is being traded in for a more even-handed work atmosphere.
As those who currently work in a completely open environment have learned, it is not always easy and certainly not always comfortable. Everyone needs their own work space, and many need a quiet retreat to sit and think without over-hearing their co-worker discuss dinner plans on the phone.
Yes, the open-office trend is probably here to stay, but designers are keeping their mind open to the possibility that some closed doors are required.
The year 2015 is geared to be the year for the office overhaul, with more and more offices entering an open concept. As we have shown here, there are some pitfalls (especially when it comes to privacy), but in one manner or another a more open concept is here to stay.
Do you work in a cubicle or an open office? We would love to hear your take on what works best for you!