4 Design Principles of Open Plan Offices

With benefits like greater productivity and collaboration and the elimination of the high wall cubicles, the open plan office is considered to be the starting point for “the office of the future”. As designers, we have adapted to this new feel and look of the corporate world, and have found that there are four key design principles that define every open plan workplace.

1. Space is allotted solely according to need

Liquidnet Space. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Open office plan in our Liquidnet space. Image © Visnick & Caulfield

The open plan is centralized around the notion of minimizing space. This means less private offices and more open-work areas and multi-function rooms. Yes, claustrophobic cubicles are gone. The open plan takes away unused personal spaces, shrinking the entire office square-footage  to a size that efficiently matches the work being done.

2. No fixed workstations

Pegasystems Space

Open work room in our Pegasystems space. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

While some offices still have assigned desks, many are utilizing the mobility of technology and the flexibility of being able to login on any device, allowing workers to move from one work area to the next. This maximizes team mentality, allowing everyone in the office to move from workstation to workstation based on both who they need to work with and where they want to be.

3. More community areas, less individual spaces

Open lounge area for Keurig space. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Open lounge area in our Keurig space. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Open plans are designed to include a large number of meeting rooms and lounges, while minimizing the number of personal areas. This means workers can truly utilize every inch of the office rather than being retained to the dimensions of a cubicle. This elimination of spatial confinement is where the open plan office benefit of greater collaboration and communal work begins.

4. Huddle areas placed throughout to support modern work styles

Pegasystems Space © Neil Alexander

Open lounge area in our Pegasystems space. Image © Neil Alexander for Visnick & Caulfield

Huddle spots include hallway high-tops, modular furniture, wall lounges, halftime workstations, small quiet rooms and glass enclosed team rooms. Technology and the belief of workplace well-being are the driving forces for the open plan office. Creating innovative and interesting spots throughout the office allows for work to happen anywhere. By providing workers with options, huddle spots allow workers to use the entirety of the space, creating greater productivity and acceptance of environment.

The big picture: opening up the layout of an office can help to open the minds of the workers.  With these four design features, any office can achieve this end result.

Written by Isobelle Hemmers
Edited by Scott Kligerman, Senior Associate at Visnick & Caulfield, LEED, AP
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