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Open plan vs separated workspaces

The Pros and Cons of PartitioningEarlier this year, plans of Facebook’s new office created by Frank Gehry were released, showing a building designed to house 2,800 engineers all in one open plan office. In Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg’s mission to make the ‘world a more open place’, the team of over two thousand technicians will all congregate in one huge open room, achieving the title of the largest open office space in the world.

So, what impact can open plan offices have on staff morale, productivity and communication in comparison with separated workspaces? This article will serve to explain the pros and cons of both and the effects such working environments can have on employees.

In the 1960s, designer Robert Propst noted that most people had their most productive ideas or did their best thinking when they left their desks and were not confined to their workspace. In an attempt to revitalise an environment which Propst had described as ‘the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort’, he released his Action Office furniture inventions which introduced cubicles to workplaces across the world.

Today, adjustable workspaces such as this are economically beneficial as more employees can be put together in the same workspace without using separating walls. Further to this, such open plan designs can cause substantial savings on heating and electricity bills, as more light can access deep buildings and it will be much cheaper to heat an open place workplace.


Despite being beneficial to managers and property owners, what effects can open and closed workspaces have on the employees themselves?

In terms of complex topics and questions which need to be answered there and then, face to face communication is the ideal solution. Open plan spaces give co-workers the perfect opportunity to discuss problems and ideas with each other in an effective manner. Approaching other members of staff is extremely easy and each employee can contribute to something bigger than themselves, creating a sense of unity and camaraderie throughout the office.

However, a working environment such as this can have major disadvantages, causing employees to feel interchangeable and deprived of individuality. Lack of dedicated spaces which workers can personalise can leave them feeling like their job is temporary and, in turn, can lead to a high staff turnover.

Most workers find ‘speech privacy’ the main problem in open plan offices, with many arguing that rather than encouraging more productive conversations, this may actually inhibit workers and prevent them from speaking in public. Constant distractions and noise pollution can dampen employees’ motivation to be proactive during their working day, causing them to fall behind on work.


In cases such as this, separated workspaces can be far more appealing to workers to ensure total privacy and an escape from persistent noise. However, this type of environment can cause some people to feel rather closed in or cut off from the rest of the office as most enjoy the sense of community in an open spaced environment.

Here at CPS Interiors, we understand how the interior design of your office can directly affect the productivity and enjoyment of your employees. As one of the leading office design specialists serving the Midlands, our dedicated team of interior designers and office planners are always on hand to create the finest office layout to fit your requirements, tastes and budget seamlessly.

From commercial office fit outs to office partitioning, we are able to tailor our services to suit your individual specifications. We use state-of-the-art AutoCAD software to combine detailed scale drawings with 3D visuals and design boards so you can clearly envision what the office interior will look and feel like once the project is completed. For further information or to book an appointment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team of experts today!


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