Open to Opportunities, or Closed off from Chaos?

Published May 16, 2014
Last Updated April 16, 2019
Jask Creative

Work. The average adult will work around 40 hours a week. That equates to, in simple maths, 2,080 hours worked a year, and just under 25% of our time being given up to be in the workplace per week.

When you take out the time spent on sleep and travel, we all know that feeling: we actually spend more time at work than we do at home.

Looking at it this way, we should do as much as we can to make work feel less like work and instead a place of comfortable surrounding that promotes well-being, creativity and innovation. After all, nobody wants to feel like they are at work just to make ends meet. That’s where dreams go to die.

Enter the debate: Open Plan Offices vs. Closed Plan Offices.

At Jask we can say we have experienced both. You may have noticed we moved offices last year, (if you didn’t, where were you for this monumental occasion?) and during that move we also made the switch from closed plan to open plan offices, uniting the office and studio in the process.

For us, as creative marketing folk, the benefits were clear:

  1. Less walking from office to office relaying information across
  2. Better communication between account handlers and designers
  3. Creativity bounces around quicker and innovation can come from anybody as conversations are overheard and allows people to join in
  4. Making everybody feel part of one team and promoting dialogue between staff who wouldn’t normally talk to each other unless at lunch

However, where there is yin, there is also yang and some unforeseen drawbacks have come back round to bite us. The biggest of all?
Too much dialogue.
See, when you have an open floor, it can get pretty darn noisy. Acoustics-wise, with no walls or doors, the cavernous office can create a cacophony of noise that is impossible to escape from. Fridays, as you can imagine, are particularly chaotic.

And when it gets noisy, it gets hard to concentrate. And when it gets hard to concentrate, it gets frustrating. And when it gets frustrating…you can see where this is going.

Not only that, but we open ourselves up to being disturbed and so having that alone time to focus on getting jobs done is hard to come by. This is particularly troublesome for the graphic designers/web developers who are being asked to jump from job to job making various client amends.

So where do we go from here, you ask? Well, we aren’t going full circle back to being all closed off again as there will always be that need for collaboration between office and studio, but dividers will be put up between the two so it makes it less tempting to shout at each other from one side to the other.

Perhaps we might even consider hotel style ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs to hang off the backs of our chairs, who knows.

Of course, it’s not just us that face these problems. Facebook recently underwent the same considerations as they look to have ‘the largest open floor plan in the world’ as Zuckerberg expands into a new campus. Kevin Kruse, Forbes contributor, expresses similar concerns and wonders if it’ll work for better or worse.

I myself am a personal fan of Google’s London offices for its fun and creative spaces, which while looking open enough, also seem to have closed personal spaces. Judging from the way Google are progressing it seems innovation is easy to come by at their offices.

Give us a shout if you have your own thoughts on what works best! You can find us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Or, you can contact us directly.

 

 

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  • open plan vs closed office space
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