Office Layout | Open Office | Meaning | Advantages & Disadvantages

What is an Open Office?

Open office is a place where the staff and equipment of all the departments are accommodated in a single room. Each department or section or division of the office is allotted a specific space under the same roof.

Open office - Meaning, Advantages and Disadvantages
Image: Open office – Meaning, Advantages and Disadvantages

An open office is often demarcated by counter high filing cabinets or shelves. One or more gangways throughout the whole floor may be provided and desks may be arranged facing one way so as to facilitate supervision and easy process. The modern tendency is the adoption of open office instead of private office for different sections. Even though, the private office is provided to top executives and the persons who are requiring privacy and concentration while performing their work.

Advantages of an Open Office

An open office offers the following advantages

1. Economical: Open office makes better utilization of available space by avoiding unnecessary partitions and corridors. It is experienced that nearly 30 to 35 percent of office space is taken up by walls and partitions. There is a savings of rent and less cost of operation in an open office.

2. Effective Supervision: Both clerk and supervisor faces each other in an office. Therefore, there is a possibility of better inspection, supervision and coordination of work.

3. Better Lighting and Ventilation: There is a free flow of natural light and air by eliminating unnecessary partitions. It may help in better lighting and ventilation.

4. Better Communication: An open office facilitates interdepartmental transmission of information. A clerk need not go to another room for consultation, advice or instruction.

5. Flexibility: There is a greater flexibility in the layout of an open office. It ensures effective placement of office machines and equipment. Besides, when a need arises, a change in the office layout is effected without much difficulty.

6. Joint Use of Equipment: Office equipment have been used by all the departments or sections. In this way, the joint use of equipment ensures better and full utilization of equipment.

7. Smarter Look: The open office wears a better look. This better look creates better impression on the visitors.

8. Democracy: An open office is democratic because all grades of staff are placed in the single room.

9. Minimum Movement of Staff: Employees need not move from their place of work to know who is present or absent. It is also convenient to the visitors of an office to identify the persons whom they want to contact.

10. Centralization: The open office facilitates centralization of filing, stationery and the like. The centralization facilitates the promotion of efficiency and economy.

Disadvantages of Open Office

Open office has the following disadvantages

1. Lack of Secrecy: Office staffs are performing their work without any privacy. Therefore, open office is not suitable if the secrecy of work is required.

2. No Concentration: Accounting, statistical work and policy decision are some of the work which requires concentration of mind. Besides, visitors of an office are also disturbed and movement of staff is also affected in an open office.

3. Untidy Appearance: Many staff is working in a single roof with scattered files. It seems like an untidy appearance. No effect will lead to good appearance in an open office.

4. Low Morale: Apparent regimentation, no individuality, reduced sense of belongingness and loss of status to senior staff are responsible for low morale among the office employees.

5. Impersonal Atmosphere: In an open office, every office employee feels little attachment to his place of work. Senior staff may feel insulted when asked to sit in the same place.

6. Noisy: The efficiency of the staff may be affected by the noise of ringing telephones and clicking typewriters.

7. Unhealthy: A large open office is objected from health point of view. The infectious diseases are easily passed on to anybody and there is insufficient ventilation are the main two frequent complaints against open office. According to G Mills and O. Standing Ford, “Many people do not like working in an open office”.