Pros and Cons of Open Office Floor Plans

June 29, 2018 Written by Oralie Chapman

Over the last several years, many business owners and managers have moved away from cubicles, privacy partitions and private offices toward "open office floor plans" that save the company money and encourage collaboration. The trend began in tech startups and quickly expanded to traditional companies but a 2017 survey found some serious downsides to open floor plans including decreased productivity, energy levels and creativity.


How do I know if open office floor plans are right for my business?

There is no one size fits all solution for office layouts. The number of employees, type of business and work, the company culture and even the particular personalities and preferences of employees should be factors weighed before switching to an open floor plan. With Hawaii’s low unemployment rate, employers must be especially sensitive to creating a positive work environment for their employees.


One idea is to take the positive parts of the open office floor plan and balance them with the drawbacks by creating a blend of workspaces within the office. For example, setting up communal areas for employees working on the same projects while also offering encloses spaces that provide quiet from the noise of co-worker chatter. The goal is to create a workplace setting where people want to work, and there is an ideal balance between both collaboration and productivity.


Pros and cons of office space floor plans


Open floor plans can vary in style from unassigned seating with a large communal table and benches or movable seating to long, shared desks without partitions.

  • Pros: least expensive, ideal for employees who need to collaborate on a regular basis, creates a feeling of equality among co-workers, encourages communication between management and employees.
  • Cons: can be stressful for introverted workers, lack of privacy and decreased productivity as chatty workers distract others with conversation

Semi-private cubicles are assigned work spaces with short partition walls. Co-workers can see and hear each other.

  • Pros: Creates an open plan feeling good for collaboration and teamwork but gives the employee ownership over their designated space.
  • Cons: Decreased productivity from unplanned conversations and noise level.

Private cubicles are enclosed spaces without doors but with tall partitions.

  • Pros: Some privacy, reduced noise level.
  • Cons: over-hearing co-worker conversation, decreased collaboration.


Private offices are enclosed spaces with a door for each worker.

  • Pros: complete privacy, increased productivity, lower stress.
  • Cons: expensive, takes more floor space, can make managers and co-workers seem unapproachable which decreases collaboration.


Combination of open and closed workspaces means creating some private work spaces like offices and cubicles plus open areas designed for collaboration on shared projects.

  • ProsIt allows people with different workflows and personalities to choose spaces in which they can be the most comfortable and productive while creating common areas for projects that need collaboration.
  • Cons: It is more expensive than some other options and requires careful design planning. 


Makai HR helps companies grow and strengthen their business

There are other ways for companies to save money besides implementing ideas like open floor plans. With payroll being businesses biggest expense, Professional Employer Organization’s (PEO) provide Human Resources (HR) outsourcing that can save you money without sacrificing employee satisfaction. When you partner with a PEO there is no need for in-house Human Resources (HR); HR needs from payroll to taxes, health insurance/benefits and worker’s compensation are handled for you. Makai HR offers value added benefits such as group healthcare pricing, 100% paperless solutions, VISA paycards, and time-in/time-out clocks at the best rates on the island.


Companies who partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. Contact us today to learn about which of our tailored service plans is right for you!