The open-plan office has its supporters and its opponents. The big fans and those that feel they are being treated like battery hens and yearn for the old-fashioned box office. One thing is clear: this kind of office is no longer being built and the open-plan office has become the norm. But do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

No more barriers

  • The principle: In an open-plan office barriers between colleagues have been literally done away with. The reasoning behind this is that teams are better informed of what the others are working on, collaborate better and are more productive.
  • The disadvantage: But there’s another side to the story. The self-same employees feel like they’re being watched and complain about how hard it is to concentrate. They are constantly distracted and have no means of being on their own when they need to focus.
  • The solution: Why not combine the advantages of an open-plan office – improved communication and collaboration – with the possibility of working on your own when you need to? That’s what activity-based working is all about and it makes perfect sense if you ask us!


  • The principle: Architects are big fans of the open-plan office, because open spaces give them a lot more freedom than a corridor with small offices on either side. In addition, it’s much easier to attract daylight all the way inside the building.
  • The disadvantage: You see every single colleague that walks by. You hear every phone that rings. It’s difficult to feel calm in a large office space, both visually and acoustically. And calm is exactly what your employees need to help them concentrate and be creative.
  • The solution: Acoustics in the office is one of the most important aspects of a successful office design. There are all sorts of innovative solutions to this: a green wall, for example, with the added advantage that greenery in the office reduces stress.


  • The principle: Colleagues are sat together all the time meaning they can informally confer as they work. Less time is wasted on protracted scheduled meetings.
  • The disadvantage: Research demonstrates that people in an open-plan office have less face-to-face contact with one another, but they do continue to communicate electronically via email etc.
  • The solution: Digital technology makes it easier to communicate without actually having to speak to one another. Something which is also necessary now that employees are increasingly flexible with working hours and more likely to be working remotely. Indeed, this year we expect to see a rise in innovative communication solutions.

For or against open-plan: can’t make your mind up? Then tell us about your situation. Together we’ll come up with the perfect office for you.