July 3, 2024

Open space office: between creativity and concentration

Open-space offices have become popular as they are considered an advancement over traditional large-capacity offices. As the name suggests, colleagues are provided with ample space to carry out their daily tasks.

Open space workplace: lots of added value for employees and companies 

Open space offices fall into the category of large-capacity offices, but they take an employee-friendly approach in terms of design. The advantages of open-space offices include:

- Employee-friendly office space

- Open room structures

- Efficient work processes

- Flexible design options

What are the differences between the open space office and the large capacity office?

Multi-purpose collaboration area. Image by Narbutas.

The classic large-capacity office has been around since the mid-1960s. Banks, insurance companies, law firms, call centres and the like often crammed employees into entire office floors. Sometimes the noise level was unbearable - imagine many office desks lined up with typewriters and telephones. If you wished to have an uninterrupted conversation, that was not the place for you; however, bosses sat in partitioned glass cubicles and kept an eye on the hustle and bustle.

The drawbacks of a classic large capacity office are quite apparent. Loud ambient noise can be disturbing for colleagues and privacy is often compromised. Although partition walls can be used to create individual cubicles, they only provide limited relief. The overall environment can be stressful for employees, and carrying out daily tasks near each other often results in a hectic rush. However, this doesn't have to be the case. Focused work can be achieved if everyone has their own space.

Furniture in the open space office concept

open space office
Open space office with multi-purpose areas for collaboration, focus and team work. Office project by Upscale Spaces.

The design of an open space office should consider the need for quiet zones for concentrated work, areas for teamwork, and places for dialogue. The size of the office depends on the number of employees and the structural conditions. The office should not be too small, as a relaxed atmosphere cannot be achieved in cramped spaces. A room size of at least 30 m² is recommended and it should include large windows, light-colored walls, and ergonomic furniture.

Open space offices rely on an open spatial structure and often integrate elements of biophilic design. The repertoire of furniture includes desks as well as ergonomic office chairs and shelving. Plants and the implementation of greenery liven up the atmosphere and improve the level of oxygen in space. When planning, it is important to use only as many elements as necessary - or so-called, promote a minimalist approach to avoid visual smog. If possible, bulky furniture should be better placed in other areas of the office. This dominates the office landscape, which detracts from the working environment.

Teamwork is a crucial aspect of any open office space

open space office with a lot of plats
Design concept for a private bank by Upscale Spaces.

It's not just limited to individual groups but involves everyone present. This is particularly important during briefings and presentations where everyone needs to be addressed. Therefore, it is essential to provide employees with a place that can be seen from every corner of the room. Having a free wall surface where presentations can be displayed using a projector is an advantage.

Collaborative working is a central aspect of the open-plan office. It promotes dialogue and collaboration between employees and contributes to the development of innovative ideas.

Some people are loners and don't like working in groups. An open space office should therefore always have an area that offers employees more privacy. Tall indoor plants and partitions shield them from the rest of the hustle and bustle. If this is not possible due to a lack of space, privacy screens that can be mounted on desks may be ideal.

Individual wok stations with sit/stand desks with privacy screens.

A well-planned office space can be utilized to its fullest potential, even the furthest corner. However, it's important to avoid overcrowding the space with too much furniture. Instead, a balance can be achieved through thoughtful planning.

In situations where space is limited, it can be beneficial for two or more employees to share a desk, as long as an appropriate working time model is established. In larger companies, there is often a policy of allowing employees to choose their workstation - desk-sharing policy. However, it's important to ensure that every employee has a laptop or that the working environment is identical on all computers for this to work effectively. Individual offices offer another alternative for employees who need privacy.

Open space office concept: can lead to maximum efficiency

Community area for Mathrix office. Design by Upscale Spaces.

Open space offices score highly in terms of communication. This largely takes place digitally. Reports, emails and similar are usually available at the computer workstation, but some companies have to process mountains of files in printed form. It takes little effort to set up processing lines that cover everything from incoming mail to quality assurance. The same applies to group workstations where several people sit around a large table.

As far as work routes are concerned, these should be as short as possible - regardless of how compact or expansive an office is. There are clever solutions in numerous areas. For example, installing a photocopier centrally in the room and networking it with every computer has proven to be a good idea. Cloud workstations also contribute to this.

The advantages also pay off in terms of operating costs. The concept only requires a few rooms to be heated or air-conditioned. An open space office is usually managed with one heating system and one central air conditioning unit. 

The noise level in the open space workplace

Many people often sit together in a modern open space office. This makes it all the more important to keep the noise level low, which is why great importance is attached to sound insulation and acoustic elements throughout the open space office. This can be achieved with wall acoustic materials and sound-absorbing floor coverings such as carpet or linoleum tiles. Upholstered furniture, such as a seating area for occasional relaxation, also helps to reduce noise.

If the conditions allow, the office should also include areas that are rarely frequented. These can be quiet areas for meetings and video chats. To insulate them, sound-absorbing partition walls are recommended, which are also visually effective. Designers suggest sound-absorbing furniture such as dividers, planters, shelving, lights, artworks with implemented acoustic benefits.

Having an optimised space with optimal acoustics is particularly important for any external (client meetings) and internal meetings to ensure undisturbed conversation and privacy.

Open space office: the concept with a future

The open-plan office strengthens the bond between employees - everyone pulls in the same direction. Several workstations can be set up in a fairly compact environment. But it doesn't happen overnight and often requires professional advice from an interior architect and interior designer. During the design phase, a holistic approach is necessary to understand how the teams work as well as understand the structural conditions of the office space itself.

At Upscale, we provide support to companies who are looking to implement modern office concepts. Our team of experts offer extensive experience and quality advice to ensure that your office space is designed to meet your needs.

Take advantage of the numerous benefits of open-plan offices and contact us today for a free-of-charge consultation. We will get back to you as soon as possible!