Open-plan Office

Do open-plan offices work?

Open office concept has worked and failed since it was realized. 

In the olden days, an open-office is visualized to be the cheapest and the easiest way of institutionalizing human production by keeping many workers under one roof that has fewer walls and more uniformity. 

It provides easy supervision for an employer over the employees on the whole working floor and workers are able to see each other working. 

As much as the workplace is open and usually have a higher ceiling in the olden days, people are able to talk to each other and interact freely while working. 

People then realized the need for privacy for a certain nature of work and the idea of a cubical space were later added on. 

(Source: Research and analysis of the evolution of office space

A company like Google later even introduced the free-and-easy style of working to redefine work before the work-from-home and the co-working ideas are being more popular these days. 

All the ideas have one common objective: to increase employee’s productivity 

We can further breakdown the question into the following questions:- 

 - Does open office make workers happy? 

 - Is working in a happy mood equals higher productivity? 

A much proper question should be: In what aspect that an open office has worked? 

We need to realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution but only principles when it comes to designing a workplace. 

As the culture of people is diversely different, a different concept of working can mean differently for each individual.

We need to understand people’s culture and need not to be limited to only one solution. 

The idea has worked, but the execution on the individual level has failed and it always fails because of the one-size-fits-all thinking. 

Otherwise, do not be surprised to see phenomenal like:-

 - Employee abusing free-and-easy concept in the office 

 - Work-from-home leads to low productivity due to distractions 

 - Happy employee produces less than a stressful employee at work 

 - Employee feel much eager to work in the office in the city than inside of a vacation resort 

If you have a bunch of talented people that will work for you, an open plan office will only be working for a certain number of them, don’t implement strict rules on all of them but to understand their culture to unleash their potential and deploy their productive way of working. 

Some might want to work on a bean bag, some might be able to concentrate and work more at home with their babies around, some prefer good stress in the open office, and some might provide you more than you can give when you provide them a traveling ticket. 

Send those guys off to vacation!