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Enclosed Office Layout: 7 Drawbacks From an HR Perspective

Filip Dimkovski - Writer for POC System
By Filip Dimkovski
Michelle Meyer - Editor for POC System
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Published January 31, 2023.

An empty office, featuring a number of tiny cubicles.

Enclosed office layout is a type of office arrangement where workers are separated by solid walls or partitions. It often consists of cubicles, desks, and other furniture pieces that are arranged in rows and enclosed by walls.

This design aims to provide privacy and reduce workplace noise so your employees can focus on their work. However, it can also have a negative effect on team building and communication. Your employees can feel isolated in their cubicles, making it difficult for them to collaborate and build team chemistry.

This goes against what HR specialists are trying to achieve in the workplace—ensuring everyone's needs are taken into consideration when designing an office layout. Your workspace should be inviting and welcoming to all employees, regardless of their individual characteristics.

But no office layout is ever perfect. Each type of design has its own set of pros and cons. Let's dive into the main drawbacks of an enclosed office layout.

■ Find out how open vs closed office spaces compare

1. Complicates Supervision of Work

A closed office space layout can make it difficult for you to supervise and manage employees. Since individual cubicles are often separated by solid partitions, you can't effectively observe how your employees are working. You'll have to physically move around to check in with everyone, which can feel awkward and a bit intrusive.

From an HR perspective, this type of office layout can be counterproductive as it makes it harder to ensure everyone is on the same page and doing their work properly.

2. Increases Likelihood of Employee Misconduct

Keeping with the thread that it's more difficult to supervise your employees, it also means it's easier for them to misuse their work time and engage in misconduct such as:

  • Gossiping
  • Taking long breaks
  • Surfing the web during work hours

Your managers and HR staff might miss this behavior which can lead to a decline in productivity and an increase in disciplinary action. This isn't ideal in any workspace.

3. Reduces Effective Communication & Collaboration Among Employees

Closed office spaces can impede quick and easy conversations between your employees. They may be hesitant to share ideas or ask questions in their cubicles, and the physical separation makes it difficult to collaborate on projects.

From an HR specialist’s point of view, this can be extremely damaging to team morale and collaboration if it blocks the free flow of ideas. If your employees become more isolated, it can lead to a decrease in job satisfaction.

■ Want to increase employee satisfaction? Follow these tips to optimize your office space

4. Results in Decreased Productivity

Feelings of isolation and disconnectedness along with less strict supervision can lead to a decline in productivity. Your employees may find it difficult to focus on tasks and remain productive.

Closed office spaces can also make it harder for your HR specialists to keep track of workflow and ensure everyone is meeting deadlines. When the productivity of your teams suffers, your HR department can't focus on improving other aspects of your workplace but has to devote more time to addressing this issue.

■ Discover how to manage your office space to increase employee productivity

5. Significantly Impacts Overall Office Culture

Your office culture is a reflection of your company’s values and how people interact with each other. It goes without saying that if you have an inadequate office culture, it can damage morale and team performance because your employees may feel uncomfortable sharing their ideas or engaging with each other.

As a result, the general atmosphere in the office can become toxic and cause more conflicts, which means your HR team has to spend more time and resources trying to resolve them.

Prevent gender bias in your office culture by optimizing your office space

6. Lacks Organization-Wide Accessibility to Information

Your employees can find it difficult to access the resources they need in a closed office space. For example, an employee may not be able to access information about a certain project from their cubicle. Similarly, if an employee needs help from another department or team, it can be difficult to make contact.

Limited access to information creates a lack of transparency and accountability within your company. This can lead to confusion among your employees and negatively affect your company's overall productivity and success.

7. More Likely to Result in Workflow Disruptions

Finally, your employees can experience significant workflow disruptions because they're isolated and not as readily available to resolve issues together (and swiftly).

Furthermore, the lack of visibility in closed office spaces can make it more difficult for HR specialists to monitor the progress of tasks and ensure that everyone is working efficiently. If your employees are not held accountable for their work, it can negatively impact the quality and speed of projects, which in turn can result in further workflow disruptions.

The Verdict

The disadvantages associated with a closed office layout can have a significant impact on your performance because it limits communication and interaction between your employees, reduces overall office culture, and leads to workflow disruptions. Consequently, an open office layout may be more suited for you if you prioritize engagement and networking as it encourages collaboration and communication while creating an inclusive environment.

Knowing all this, you're probably already thinking of reconfiguring your office space. However, this requires a lot of careful and strategic planning, but there are many ways to speed up the process. Using convenient solutions like POC's space management software is the easiest way to make your office more productive by properly optimizing space. With it, you can find a way to maximize space utilization to make your office a much more practical place—both for your employees and business.

■ Want to get started? Book a demo