Communal living at work and good habits to keep when working in an Open Plan office

So what is an Open Plan office design?

Open plan office floor design emerged in the US in the 1950s and appeared in Europe in the 1980s albeit with a few modifications and was intended for companies, aimed at bringing down walls between offices so that all co-workers would work in the same space. Having evolved quite a bit through the years, open plan is nowadays an option that is always seriously considered by start-ups, that do not hesitate to highlight how crucial this concept is when recruiting new employees. Promoting interaction and cohesion, as long as certain rules are abided by, open plan co-working constitutes for many the future of work spaces for businesses large or small.

The Benefits of Open Plan

Open plan creates enhanced team cohesion and facilitates communication flow between the various departments and services.  Had each employee been in their respective offices, cut off from everyone else interactions would have been severely reduced. The space becomes a sharing platform, visually and in terms of sound,  and therefore promoting communication. This type of design, if well designed, will heighten well-being at work and will amplify a more personal type of communication, since email exchange will be lowered to give way to increased human interaction.

From a financial standpoint buying premises that allow for Open Plan reduces the necessary floor area for workers, brought about by the disappearance of separate offices. This therefore becomes advantageous in terms of costs, which is not inconsequential, when taking in to account the fact that the price per square meter is oftentimes exorbitant in big cities.

How not to disturb colleagues in an Open Plan setting

Open plan has many benefits, it is however important to keep certain factors in check that would otherwise be counter-productive and troublesome for employees. This design concept entails being in continuous interaction with superiors, who will be present in the heart of the open office. Employees must not feel like they are being watched or under constant surveillance, since that is far removed from the aim of this type of floor design. This type of apprehension can lead to stress and subsequently discomfort could arise, that would be detrimental to productivity and the well-being of the workforce within the company.

Furthermore constantly being in contact with co-workers and their activities around the office can sometimes become noisy, with there being a mixture of phone calls, personnel activity and music. A certain amount of commonsense and respect is necessary when co-existing with colleagues, who would otherwise quickly tire of having to work in such a loud and disquieting environment.

So here we have a to do list of good habits to adopt in order to get the most out of the Open Plan:

  • Respect your co-workers: remember that it is a work space where productivity is always very important .
  • Do not talk too loud: silence has benefits too.
  • Put your desk phone on hold or on DND (do not disturb) which is an option on your phone to silence it while you are away. A phone not ringing for 10 minutes is quite an enjoyable experience!
  • Avoid pointless to’s and fro’s, constant unnecessary movement can quickly become counter-productive.
  • Leave smelly food items at home: no one really wants to smell kippers at 4 o’clock in the afternoon!
  • Manage the heating and air-conditioning wisely: everyone is different, so be considerate.
  • Exit the open plan office for personal calls.
  • Go up to the person you are addressing rather than talking to them from afar.
  • Do not forget to be sociable pleasant, supportive and helpful.
  • A good management of phone volumes, ringers and notifications will be required.
  • Avoid being loud.

Make the ideal office layout one of your priorities

It is wise to correctly furnish and arrange the layout of the office space and its surroundings in order to do away with disturbances, but also dreariness or a lifeless lack of design,

  • Give precedence to small clusters of desks rather than there being rows upon rows of office furniture.
  • Do not hesitate to cut through the spacial monotony with plants or decorative features. This will give a warmer feel to the office.
  • Set up a separate leisure room or break room to allow employees to get way from the shared environment of the open plan from time to time.
  • Separate boardrooms and conference rooms are still important in order to be temporarily cut off from the general open atmosphere, in order to deal with more important and pressing issues.
  • Set up open plan rules for your communal workplace that are displayed in an informative and playful manner
  • Do not shy away from fully decorating the place and enhancing the interior design of the Open Plan. Positive vibes should be emanating from this newly decorated office. And you could use for instance the all too trendy urban loft feel. A touch of fun should also not be absent from your offices, dreary is certainly not the word ! Make your employees contribute to the enrichment of the workspace by encouraging them to personalise their desk spaces for a more homely feel.

Open plan, with its upgrades, represents a new engaging way to experience the workplace and is proving itself to be more and more attractive to the world of business, whether they be business leaders or employees.  Now, if you still have doubts about this concept it is important to remember that the key word here is RESPECT. This simple idea will help all in reaping the full benefits of open plan design and getting the most out of this productivity boon, while society is evermore seeking ways of attaining well-being in the workplace.


The author James

Sharing knowledge is an essential value in a world where technological developments are driving our lives. With this in mind this blog has been designed to support and advise you on your daily printing needs.