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Everything You Need To Know About The Open-Plan Office


It’s totally hip and happening, the open-plan office. Every start-up or hip company that matters has an open-plan office. But what exactly is an open-plan office and what are its advantages and disadvantages? This is the place where you can read all about it.

Maybe you are planning to open your own office and you’re considering an open-plan office. Then you should definitely keep on reading.

What is an open-plan office?

An open-plan office is a huge open space where a large group of colleagues from the same company work together. Without any partitions or suchlike, you are in the same space during all of your office hours. This has its advantages and disadvantages, we’ll list them for you after we tell you the origins of the open-plan office.

Origins of the open-plan office

The office garden comes from the German Bürolandschaft. This is a concept from 1950 for the layout of offices. In 1970, the popularity of the open-plan office spread to Western Europe. The idea came from democratisation, which represents increasing participation in an organisation. A garden office would make communication between colleagues more accessible, thus increasing participation. Moreover, they thought it would benefit productivity.

Advantages of open-plan offices

A garden office? Sounds like music to the ears for some companies. Why? Because first of all, it is very conveniently arranged. You have everyone and everything you need in the same space. This creates a certain relaxed atmosphere. You can easily walk up to a colleague when you have a question, but you can also go to any colleague if you just want to have a nice chat. You also see that there are no fixed places, every employee can sit wherever they wish. This ensures that different types of departments sit together, so that you get to know the entire organisation well.

Disadvantages of open-plan offices

If you do not have a very strong concentration curve, an open-plan office can be a real challenge. Because there are no secluded rooms with a small number of team members, you can get overstimulated very quickly. In addition, the advantages include the fact that it creates a relaxed atmosphere, which is good for the overall company culture. But that also has its disadvantages. Colleagues will quickly stop by to ask a question, which easily breaks your concentration. 

In addition, there is generally more noise from all colleagues, think of the sliding of chairs or that one colleague who is on the phone all day. This can all lead to you doing less work at the end of the day.

How to work with an open-plan office?

So, what can you do to stimulate productivity in this open-plan office? Well, you can place noise-canceling headphones at every desk, but you can also put some noise-canceling fences between work spaces. Or you can stimulate all your employees with gifts or some form of commission. For example; when the overall productivity goes up, we’re going on a ski-holiday with a rented van (Dutch: personenbus huren) or rented van for 9 people (Dutch: 9 persoons bus huren) with the whole team.

Would you be able to work well in an office garden?