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The possibilities are endless when it comes to office layouts, but they all tend to fall into one of three categories: fully enclosed, open-plan or partially enclosed. While open-plan took the world of office-design by storm as a way to open up the space for employees to collaborate, enclosed spaces are coming back ‘in’ as valuable areas in the workplace, taking back privacy.

The debate as to which of the layout options is best for employee productivity, happiness and performance is on-going, but a recent survey from office supplier Regus has some indication to the ‘best’ option, given by professionals.

Regus asked 170 Hong Kong business professionals about their preferences when it comes to office layout, and the results take factors like privacy, employee collaboration and concentration into consideration.

The winner of the three is the one that combines open-plan and enclosed – a happy medium, if you will. The partially-enclosed workspaces were found to be best for concentration for 86% of respondents, and 83% agree they allow optimum productiveness.

Partially-enclosed spaces allow privacy when needed, but collaboration and communication between employees in larger areas.  Two thirds of respondents (66%) said they find partially-enclosed offices quiet too, explaining why these are the best places for concentration and productivity.

As expected, open-plan offices were found to be the noisiest, with 75% of respondents saying they were too loud. However there is a silver lining for open-plan, with 72% of respondents recognising that they’re great for communication, between employees, between departments, and even between companies (if in a shared building).

Fully-enclosed spaces were best designed for privacy, as voted by 64% - but then with partially-enclosed offices still providing private areas, it explains why workers typically like a mix of privacy and space to collaborate.

Natina Wong, country manager at Regus, Hong Kong comments on the results: “Contemporary workers have several design options available to them when it comes to desk space. Gone are the days of enclosed offices for senior staff and open plan reception areas, now it is much more common to find workers from different departments and functions sharing open spaces, but what is the impact on productivity and concentration?

“It’s hardly surprising to find that business people regard noisy open spaces as less productive, but it is interesting to find that their preference is actually for a ‘golden mean’: the partially enclosed office space that allows them to benefit from the collaborative environment of open space offices without their thoughts being drowned out by background noise.”

So, there you have it. Of course, the survey was small and different offices operate differently, but generally the partially-enclosed office is the layout to choose. 

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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