Open plan versus closed plan offices



Open plan offices have been around for a long time. During the 19th century, architects began to use cast-iron girders to create larger spaces within buildings. This allowed shrewd bosses to replicate factory-style spaces for their office workers. Since this point, open plan has been the norm for many organisations.


There are undoubted advantages associated with open plan working environments. However, their closed plan counterparts are not without their plus points either, and both types of office have their downsides. 


One of the things that can really get on office workers’ nerves is the fact that noise levels within open plan spaces tend to rise, often to distracting levels. Sometimes, workers need peace and quiet to get on with their tasks, and this can be difficult to come by in typical offices.

On the flipside, some open plan spaces have an oppressive feel, making employees too self-conscious to speak freely. This can be just as harmful for productivity and morale.

In contrast, it’s much easier to moderate sound levels within closed plan offices. This is one of the attractions of these smaller spaces.


Given that people spend much of their waking lives in close proximity to their co-workers, it’s no surprise that tensions can flare. Open plan offices make this worse. After all, people often disagree about how warm the spaces should be and whether or not the windows should be open.

Even seemingly trivial things like how their colleagues answer the phone and what they eat at their desks can get on people’s nerves.

Those who work in closed plan offices are less likely to suffer these frustrations.


However, the fact is, money talks. Open plan offices tend to be much more cost-efficient because they can accommodate many more workers.

Figures cited by the BBC in 2013 suggested that commercial premises in London’s West End cost around £8,000 per square metre per year. It’s no wonder then that bosses are keen to make the most of the square footage available to them.


As well as being cheaper, open plan offices can help to foster collaboration. Less experienced members of organisations get to liaise more freely with their seniors and impromptu meetings and discussions between colleagues are common.

Since effective communication is key to any business, this is an important advantage.

A completely different approach 

As this analysis shows, there are many positives and negatives associated with both open and closed plan offices.

The good news is, there is a third option. Rather than choosing either one of these layouts for your working environment, you could opt for a hybrid approach. Increasingly, firms are switching on to the benefits of free-flowing areas that feature a series of different zones.

These offices can represent an efficient use of space and they can provide employees with the opportunity to choose surroundings that suit them at any given time. If you want to adopt this strategy, you could create formal, quiet spaces where people can concentrate and breakout meeting zones for collaborative work. You could also include more relaxed, informal areas for creative tasks.

To help you achieve the best possible results, it’s important that you choose the right office furniture. By heading online, you can peruse the selection of goods offered by firms such asCalibre Office Furniture.