Close Menu

What is the Worst Part of Working in an Open Office?


What is the Worst Part of Working in an Open Office?

It is estimated that 70% of all US offices are open concept in one form or the other. In addition very few companies are planning on moving back to traditional spaces with walls and doors and the concept continues to have favor. But problems with the open plan concept are surfacing and having to be addressed. The biggest problems identified are that associates are less productive (estimated at 15%) and have problems concentrating and staying focussed. Associates are easily distracted, find it hard to multitask and have difficulty getting back to the task at hand. Hot-desking in particular – an extreme version of open concept where people sit wherever they want bringing their work tools with them – is very inefficient.


From an employer point of view open concept is less costly than a traditional office layout. It is also believed that the open workspace increases collaboration but on the other hand rarely are brilliant ideas conceived when just shooting the breeze as people talk more about sports, kids and food etc. Compromise is required: a combination of less costly, collaboration and personal and acoustic privacy.


Operable walls (solid, acoustic glass or a combination of both) cannot address all of these issues but working with Moderco during your preliminary open concept design layout will result in some problem solving solutions


Lack of Focus

For jobs that require focus and a quiet environment such as writing, advertising, financial planning, computer programming, especially when deadlines are part of the process, a quiet place, quiet rooms, closed spaces are mandatory. Someplace where one can go even if only for a short period of time rather than remain at their open concept work place. Having an area that can be open or being able to quickly set up a private noise free environment is possible. When the task at hand is completed the partitions can be moved back into a storage area thus returning to the full open plan.


Individuals sometimes feel guilty “leaving the team” – moving out of the open plan to a remote area, sitting someplace on their own. An operable partition system can be designed to create spaces when needed for various sized teams of collaborating people all working on the same project. Different size temporary private environments configured to the teams size. You would install a grid of ceiling track and enough panels (glass or solid) with pass doors, marker boards, white boards etc. to be able to configure as desired.



There are several potential acoustical considerations for open concept offices. Sound-masking & address issues with HVAC noise levels are two of the most common. But there are several more which can be addressed by the selective use of Moderco operable partitions while not totally taking away from the desired open concept design.


Provide Collaboration Spaces. Install a grid of operable partitions such that when a secure acoustic environment is required (conference calls, quiet thought times etc.) panels can be quickly set up and then removed back to storage areas when the need is over.


Temporarily provide Noise Barriers between Workspaces: If a track ceiling grid is established in the ceilings then available panels could be moved from storage areas to create  temporary offices within the open concept space. A solution oriented plan working with Moderco personnel at the design stage would be beneficial.


Sound Absorption: Panels with sound absorbing capabilities could be moved to random locations on a pre-installed track grid within an open concept office space to partially negate reflective noise from people and equipment by means of sound absorption. The panels could be covered with aesthetically pleasing fabrics and murals that would add to the attractive nature of the area and “break-up” the area.


In summary, Open Concept is here to stay and growing. But fully “open” may not be the best solution. Operable Panel systems can provide the best of both worlds.


Contact Moderco at 1 800 363-3150.