Office Space

Open-plan offices: Harmful or beneficial to productivity?

13th February 2017

Introverts VS ExtrovertsOpen-plan offices provide a collaborative space to fuel productivity, develop comradery and helps promote a healthy work-life balance.

Walk into many creative agencies in London, and you’ll find a hub of creative activity, discussion. Take Google who adopts the open office policy “to spark conversation about work as well as play.”

Open-plan offices are also utilised by other industries too, but often, depending on your working style this environment can be a hotbed of distraction and make it difficult for staff to get any serious work done, especially introverted workers who require a little more peace and quiet to get complex tasks complete.

So, what’s the answer to a happy, balanced workspace environment? While we believe the collaboration in a creative, open-plan environment is beneficial, if not managed effectively to cater to all types of workers’ needs, the output of work from your staff may be affected.

Jeanette Grover the founder and Project Director at Rapport Solutions explains:

“As a company grows and can afford to invest in a quality workspace, the environment should become a tangible manifestation of the company culture. Collecting input from employees about their ideal work conditions and incorporating that feedback into the new workspace encourages collaboration, individuality and delivers a workspace designed to support changes with limited disruption. 

We encourage this employee feedback during our design and workspace service. This was successfuly employeed during our Rosebery Housing and Shepherds Bush Housing projects.”

*You can read an exclusive interview with David Blackburn, Director of Business Support, and how working with Rapport was the key to the success of the Shepherds Bush project supporting internal communication between staff, management and the delivery team here.  


As a business, if you would like to make the most of your workspace and open-plan policy, consider the following insights for a productive and happy workplace.


1. Offer ‘quiet space’ to help individual productivity 

Even in organisations that encourage and thrive on creative collaboration, employees still have specific tasks and goals that require focus. A poorly designed open floor plan can make these tasks challenging. The solution? Include spaces for quiet, private or small group work in your office design. This offers the best of both worlds. An open-plan office without compromising on individual productivity. Solutions such as soundproofing booths and can easily modify the interior to cater to these needs.

2. White noise and sound masking

WorkersIn environments with white noise or sound masking, employees report improvements of up to 38% for the performance of simple tasks and 27% for complex tasks. The office layout, including flooring materials, walls, ceilings and behavioural protocols can also make a difference.

In a recent study of 2,800 knowledge workers – commissioned by Sodexo and in partnership with Quora Consulting – 67% admitted they left their last role because the workplace was not optimised for them.

Of those, 69% said their workplace design directly impacted on their effectiveness – citing office noise, bad lighting and access to quiet space all as crucial factors.

More than half (51%) also claimed that cutting unnecessary noise was the most important way to improve effectiveness. A third (35%) said access to quiet space is key to increasing productivity.

3. Encourage remote working initiatives

Open-plan offices work well when offered alongside hot desking and remote working policies. Offering employees, the opportunity to work on occasional projects that need time and focus from home or a client’s office can give many a break from the commute and some well needed down time to tackle tasks that need focus without colleague distraction.Although the right policies and practise may need to be implemented, the remote working policy can bolster individual productivity, strengthen the employee sense of

Although the right policies and practise may need to be implemented, the remote working policy can bolster individual productivity, strengthen the employee sense of privacy and increase staff loyalty.

Striking a balance is key!

Effective, and balanced workspace design is key to your business needs, bottom line and employees. If you’re at the early stages of a relocation or re-design – Rapport’ are on hand to advise your organisation on best practises and solutions to cater to all your employee and business needs.

Join us on one of our free workspace design workshops

We work closely with our clients and their staff at the early stages of a workspace design project to understand the culture and the needs of different departments to find a happy medium within the design.

We work with HR teams closely to carry out workshops that involve key managers and staff in the initial design process.

Open to HR and facilities teams who are in the early stages of a workspace design or relocation project, our free workspace design workshops help advice you and your organisation on best practices. Providing a considered questionnaire to staff to understand what keeps them motivated; what distracts them about their current working space and tailored to your wants and needs’ our individual sessions help your organisation make the most of our independent and impartial industry knowledge and expertise with our designers, project managers and contractors.

For more details and to contact us about availability, call on 01252 712590 or email .