Office design; open or closed layout? This is as individual to the business needs as it is to the individuals working there. There are many factors to consider when making this decision.

In early 2005, shared work spaces became a trend that has catapulted into the stratosphere; hubs are being set up all across the city that now even accommodate yoga, meditation and gymnasiums to mention a few perks.

So what are the advantages to open plan/shared work spaces?

Cost cutting: without a doubt, open and shared spaces reduce overheads and logistics astronomically. This is possibly the best advantage to an open plan. More heads per square metre of = higher productivity.

Creativity: working with and besides each other promotes a culture of socialness and collaboration. Ideas are bounced off each other freely, and a sense of camaraderie can also be achieved. Employees are seen as happier and have a sense of acceptance in an open plan layout. Employee satisfaction and happiness is often the most primary of company goals.


Accountability: It is very hard to slack off behind, next to or in front of co workers and management, so naturally employees become more accountable and socially responsible for their work output and consistency.

The disadvantages?

Noise: Yes, open plan and shared spaces can become noisy. For those who like to work quietly and solidly on their projects, this can be the biggest disadvantage, particularly for those who work in finance and data driven industries.

The common cold: come winter, a common cold can spread in an open plan quicker than a wildfire, and wreak a havoc of illnesses and absences.

Getting along: Let’s face it, not everyone gets along all the time or shares the same views and having many different personalities in one room may see the rise of conflicts and misunderstandings. This can also filter down to other employees and alter their stress levels, particularly introverts.

A Closed Office Layout

In the 80’s, an office space meant you were tucked away in a cubicle , with the only view to your colleagues was by standing up. Closed plan offices are presented by glass or plaster partitions separating its employees, allowing each employee their own personal and private space.

Some advantages of a closed office layout:

Privacy: Employees can feel a certain sense of privacy and less glare on them, which in turn can feel like a more secure working environment. Some people need the private and

quieter space to think about their next move, which some might argue is more productive conducive.

Productivity: following on from privacy, less noise can allow for longer stretches of work flows without interruption and distraction. The quality of work usually increases, and sensitive projects can be focused on much easier. Also when a job requires a high level of detail, this is best performed in a closed environment.

Less spread of germs: if you are sick, this is more likely to be confined to within your immediate surroundings. Bugs and germs tend to stay in the cubicle and not spread to other employees. Less sick employees = higher productivity, lower sick leave costs.


Definitely, more expensive. Costs are significantly higher to build and maintain. More items per person are needed, including things like furniture and maintenance.

Accountability: Unlike it being a positive for open plan, there is a lot less accountability in closed plan. It is harder to supervise and keep an eye on employee productivity.

So, both fit outs carry great pros and cons, with management often being faced with the hard task of balancing employee happiness and company productivity

Our suggestion? Create a space that allows for both closed and open fit-outs, giving management and employees the freedom to sit where required to suit the task at hand. This is known as Activity Based working, and is a newer agile way to work, creating a hybrid environment. A closed office or section can offer an employee the choice of completing a high detail task or make a sensitive phone call, and an open space can bring teams or employees together when collaboration is needed and perform specific tasks, creating a better balance in the work place.

We’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on how you manage your office set up?


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