Productivity Killers: the Dangers of an Open Plan Office

Office Management


With the success of business giants like Google, Skype and Apple, the open plan office layout has become wildly popular across the globe. The open office fad is running rampant, with over 70% of all US employees now reported to work in open offices – and the UK’s not far behind. Unfortunately, except for the companies that popularised the layout, open plan offices are proven to be wildly distracting for most employees. It’s been reported that as many as 85% of employees are unhappy with their workspace – with 31% going so far as to leave the office to complete their work elsewhere, because they feel so distracted within the office. Luckily, because most open plan offices are now facing the same issues, solutions have started to emerge. Today we’re taking a look at some of the biggest dangers faced by open plan offices and offering some solutions.   OpenOffice2  


Workers in an open plan office will be confronted with unwanted audial distractions once every three minutes, greatly hindering their ability to focus on their work. Considering your office’s acoustics can help to make these distractions less noticeable. Creating soundproof phone booths will help in two ways – phone calls will no longer distract colleagues, and it’ll guarantee employees some privacy during calls. Soundproof phone cells can also be used as a convenient place to work away from noisy distractions. Other popular sound dampeners include the tried and true soft finishes like carpeting your office floor – and more and more office panelling is now being designed to serve as both a visual enhancement and as an acoustic dampener.  


An open plan doesn’t have to mean a lack of privacy. More and more open plan offices are starting to include cells or booths designed for single use. It’ll come as no surprise that it was the Americans who brought the cell module to the open plan office, and this innovation actually benefits offices in a number of ways. It offers an option to work without distraction while retaining all the positive aspects of an open plan office. And it isn’t just single person booths that are popular – there’s also an increasing demand for ‘diner’ style booths for group discussions and small meetings.  


Depending on the nature of your business, daily work tasks might create more clutter. And what one employee might consider a source of inspiration another might find a distracting mess. Office rules and regulations might help to deal with conflicts like these – and in some cases, clutter just comes with the territory. Providing ample storage space will give your employees a means of keeping clutter to a minimum and guarantee productivity stays exactly where it should be.   Last but not least, make sure you listen to your employees. They’re uniquely positioned to know exactly what their office needs. And, as always, keep them healthy and hydrated by perking up your office with a high quality coffee machine or water dispenser, courtesy of Eden Springs.