Being specialists in office design, we’ve come across many offices which may work well in one company but not work at all in another.

Over the past few months we’ve covered some of the benefits of using a more open office design to promote collaboration and innovation, and our last post touched upon the fact that open offices can be incredibly distracting but are these open spaces proving more of a hinderance to some workforces than others?

Noise Distractions

It’s pretty obvious that having a more open plan office is going to produce much more noise than each individual employee having their own personal, closed off cubicle.

As we have mentioned in our designing for collaboration and innovation blog, this is essential in businesses who aim to create innovative ideas and promote collaboration within their workforce.

However, for companies whose employees don’t necessarily need to communicate all the time with their colleagues to be able to get on with their tasks, this enhanced level of noise can often prove more of a distraction than helpful, especially as it’s extremely difficult to switch off from all of the conversations surrounding you when there are no barriers.

Interior Of Busy Modern Open Plan Office

Visual Distractions

Not only will you have the increased level of noise in an open office, you will also be able to see everyone you are working alongside, which means that you are more likely to notice people getting up and moving around the office.

Having your attention drawn to someone because they are moving is a completely natural reaction as our vision is designed to respond to movement within our environment, so it will be extremely hard for people working on their own tasks to ignore the movement which will be going on around them.

Shared Desk Spaces

Usually within an open office, desk spaces are shared amongst neighbouring employees, and this can play havoc with some people’s work habits.


We’re not talking about habits which hinder people’s workflow, rather those that enhance it. Some employees may organise their workspace in such a way which lets them get on with their work in an efficient and timely manner- something which would be hard to do if they had to share a desk with many people.


More Chance of Being Sick?

According to a study from 2013 in the Ergonomics journal in which 1,852 Swedish employees who worked in various different office styles were studied for how often they took sick leave, open offices posed a “significant excess risk” for employees requiring days off due to illness.

Although the researchers can’t pinpoint exactly why this was the case, the researchers hypothesised that it could be linked to environmental factors which are present in an open office environment, such as increased noise levels, lack of private space and possibly that you have no way of avoiding contact with ill people if they insist on coming into work.

So there we have it! Open offices can be a great choice of a very bad decision depending on the nature of your working environment and the demands of your employees.

For a more creative, collaborative workforce, open offices are the perfect option but for a more solitary workforce who don’t need to collaborate much, it can often sap the productivity of the whole office.

Whether you are looking to create a brand new office layout or simply want to update your existing office space, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experts that we have here at Officescape. Call us today on 01553 811 833 and find out how we can help you.

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