Open Floor Plan vs. Private Offices: What These Nashville Entrepreneurs Had to Say

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The Open Floor Plan vs. Private Office Debate

The Great Recession had a massive impact on how we think about office space.

Businesses cut back on any and all unnecessary expenses – from lavish dinners to multiple locations.

They found themselves thinking:

Walls take up too much space.

Center 615 Open Work Area

Center 615 Open Work Area

If we open up the floor plan, we can now fit more employees into the same sized area.

Thus, the open floor plan was born.

By cutting back on the square footage per employee, businesses also realized some unexpected benefits - namely collaboration and creativity.

But is it really as amazing as it’s made out to be?

Let’s dive into open floor plan vs. private offices.

According to Employees

Commercial Café surveyed employees from many industries on the ideal office space.

After all – it’s employees who are really impacted by the day to day work environment.

I found their responses to be rather intriguing:

  • 43% preferred private offices

  • 23% preferred to work from home

  • 9% preferred open floor plans

  • 4% preferred coworking space

So, it still appears that private offices are the overwhelming winner.

And they’re fine taking smaller offices, too.

But what are the pros and cons of an open floor plan?

Pros

  • Fosters creativity and collaboration

  • More abundant natural light

  • Flexibility for an employee to change work environment

  • Promotes teamwork and camaraderie

Cons

  • Lack of privacy

  • Constant interruptions

  • Noise level

  • No sense of “territory”

I wonder what the employees’ response would have been if they had been asked about a balance of the two…

Wagon Wheel Title Office Layout

Wagon Wheel Title Office Layout

The most efficient floorplan I’ve seen did just that.

Smaller, efficiency offices line a larger, open room.

This layout affords the privacy to make phone calls while allowing employees to socialize and collaborate when feasible.

The conversation is no longer “open floor plan vs. private offices.”

It becomes “let’s find a balance between the two.”

What Nashville Entrepreneurs Think About Open Floor Plan vs. Private Offices

“I like a hybrid, actually.  

We have 3 people in our specific office and it allows that team to collaborate immediately and spontaneously.  

NxNE Office Layout East Nashville

NxNE Office Layout East Nashville

While open concepts are all the rage, and have great benefits, they also force people to seek out private space when they might otherwise not have to.  

Conversely, private offices create environments of exclusivity and cultures that are not aligned with modern working environments.  

The hybrid of teams sharing an office seems to be future, in my opinion.”

“While leading companies like Google and Apple have helped spearhead an ‘open office’ design trend, a lot of research has found that workers have a hard time actually ‘working’ in totally open work spaces. 

Wagon Wheel Title's Office in East Nashville

Wagon Wheel Title's Office in East Nashville

When we were designing our new space, we thought the open office model would be the way to go for sure.  But when we asked our employees they said ‘We want doors!’ 

Our firm choose to pursue a middle ground that weighed an ‘open office’ feel with privacy/sound considerations, while also maximizing how many people can be comfortably placed in a given amount of space. 

We think the trend to ‘zones’ will be a powerful one, and one that increasingly shapes how workspace is designed with an eye to maximizing work flow and space efficiency.”

It’s Constantly Evolving

One thing we know for sure about office space?

It’s always changing.

As new generations with different lifestyles enter the workforce, they ignite an evolution to fit their desires.

Staying on top of these trends could keep employee retention high while keeping operational efficiency at a maximum.

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