Benefits and Drawbacks of Open Environments

The phrases “open floor plan” and “open environment” are commonly heard in the world of commercial interior design as more and more businesses move toward this type of environment. Defined as “a method of space layout where divisions between separate areas are implied by easily movable elements, instead of being defined by permanent walls and fixed-shaped furniture,” an open office plan provides a lot of flexibility. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of this popular type of environment:


  • Encourages spur-of-the-moment collaboration between employees, management, and departments, making it easier and faster to handle issues
  • Promotes camaraderie among coworkers
  • Allows for more workstations, which is economical for business owners
  • Saves money on heating, cooling, and lighting
  • Saves money on resources that can be moved to shared areas, such as printers and copiers
  • Layout can be changed fairly easily to accommodate different needs at different times

The advantages are strong, but before transforming your office, there are also some drawbacks to consider:


  • Encourages talking, which can be distracting
  • Noisier and seemingly more hectic than closed floor plans
  • Decreased productivity if employees are distracted
  • Lack of security for personal belongings
  • Difficult to take private phone calls
  • Germs can spread faster
  • It’s difficult to achieve lighting, heating, and cooling that will please everyone
  • Management no longer has the private office they feel entitled to

Fortunately, as open floor plans continue to become the norm, there are many solutions to help mitigate the disadvantages. Here are some tools to create an effective open environment:

Sound masking creates white noise to drown out distracting conversations

Privacy panels promote a sense of privacy and lessen visual distractions

Cabinets and drawers that lock allow employees to secure their personal belongings

“Phone booths” allow employees to take private phone calls

Task lighting gives employees control over the lighting in their space

While there are some drawbacks of an open office space, thanks to these tools, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. It’s easy to see why corporate America is making the switch! If you’re interested in transforming your office into an open floor plan, check out these idea starters and contact us to create the perfect open environment for your office.



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