Lots of companies have gone from cellular environments straight to open plan, and this has sometimes worked beautifully and sometimes it just hasn’t worked at all. Why?
Noise plays a massive part in why open plan offices struggle, but more important, is the need for concentration and thought spaces throughout your environment. There will also be a massive difference in character types within different teams. These character types need different types of spaces to work comfortable, efficiently and productively.
Let’s look at finance. Accountants don’t need an office, they may need a confidential team printer, storage and prefer spaces with less noise. they are analytical. They are constantly concentrating and focusing on numbers, not creating, or selling. When we consider what their work lives involve, they typically have 3 hotspots where they may need extra levels of concentration, week-end, month-end and year-end. How do you then put them in a large open plan office and expect these pieces of work to be carried out effectively. The point of this is not to say that they should be in offices, but finance teams probably do not work best near a loud sales team and they probably need a space where they can concentrate without distractions for those 3 peaks within their daily work life.
Open plan spaces do have benefits though. Increasing interaction, better communication and better customer service (if done well). They just have to be managed carefully and planned extremely well. Think about which teams you are putting close, don’t be afraid to divide spaces with storage or low height partitions. Keep desk screens at a low height because it creates a library effect. I know previously I stated that you can divide areas with storage but, this is not to provide acoustic privacy. People tend to be less noisy when they are aware of others working.
So are you FOR or AGAINST?
When it rains, look for rainbows