Open vs. Closed Spaces: Which Office Layout Fits Your Culture Best?
Updated January 27, 2023.
Recently, the modern workplace has undergone a dramatic shift in the way companies design their offices—open plan offices and workspaces are becoming increasingly popular.
The primary difference between an open plan and a closed space lies in the layout. Open plan offices typically have a single, shared space with minimal individual rooms. This allows for better collaboration and easier communication between employees. In contrast, closed spaces are typically divided into individual cubicles or rooms that provide more privacy and a sense of personal space.
Open Office Space
To understand why so many companies are moving towards open space offices, let's have a look at the main characteristics, pros, and cons.
- Rows of desks that allow employees to find their "neighbors" easily.
- More natural light can flow into the workplace, making it a more pleasant environment.
- Areas for engagement and casual conversations like break rooms and lounge sections.
- More cost-efficient
- Maximizes available space
- Increases communication & collaboration
- Highly flexible & adaptable
- Promotes employee health & well-being
- Lack of privacy
- Often noisy & distracting
- Frequent disruptions cause employee anxiety
One of the main benefits of open plan offices is that they're more cost-efficient. You can maximize your office space and save on rent costs by parting ways with individual cubicles and rooms. Now, your employees have easier access to one another, thereby increasing communication and collaboration. More human connection (and natural light) is also good for your employees' well-being. Finally, a highly flexible open office can be rearranged easily, saving you time and effort.
In contrast, a main drawback is a lack of privacy, so it can be difficult for your employees to focus or have confidential conversations. Open plan offices are also often filled with noise and chatter. These distractions and interruptions can increase your employees' stress levels.
■ Explore additional benefits of open space offices
Closed Office Space
Now, let's see what closed office spaces bring to the table.
- Separate offices for employees including individual cubicles or rooms.
- Room dividers to separate the workspace into smaller sections.
- Screens dividing spaces to maintain privacy and reduce noise levels.
- Offers more privacy & silence
- Fewer distractions & disruptions
- Clear sense of hierarchy & order
- Calmer environment results in happier employees
- More expensive
- Weaker interpersonal relationships
- Possible team isolation
The benefits of closed offices stem from the increased privacy they offer. Because each of your employees has their own space, they can focus better and are disrupted less by noise or colleagues—which in turn can make your employees happier and more productive. Separate offices and spaces also create a clear sense of order and hierarchy, which can be beneficial in some workplaces.
But closed offices also have drawbacks. They're typically more expensive than open plan offices because they need more square footage and furnishings. The privacy offered by closed offices can also lead to weaker relationships between your employees as they're less likely to interact with one another on a daily basis. This includes not getting the feedback or collaboration they need to succeed, causing feelings of isolation and low morale.
■ Discover how office layout can affect gender bias
Choose the Right Design for Your Workspace Culture
Ultimately, the right office layout will depend on the type of work your company does and the culture you wish to foster in your workspace. If your workspace culture is collaborative, creative, and encourages social interaction, then an open space office layout is most suitable. On the other hand, if your workspace culture values privacy and individual work styles, then a closed-space office layout is more suitable. Both layouts have their pros and cons, so it's important to assess your workspace needs thoroughly before making a decision.
Nevertheless, both open and closed offices require effective space planning and management. This is where a dedicated solution like POC's space management software does all of the hard work for you. You can fully visualize your space and customize it to your needs in a dynamic interface—without requiring the skills of an AutoCAD expert. Moreover, you'll have access to detailed metrics so you can make informed business decisions with the help of an all-in-one platform.
■ Book a demo to try POC's features for yourself