Open-plan office layouts are often praised for the way in which they promote conversion and collaboration between colleagues whilst breaking down traditional hierarchies, creating a more level playing field that better allows for the free sharing of ideas. However according to a recent survey conducted by office design and fit-out specialist Dale Office Interiors, bringing those in managerial positions into these open areas may not be as beneficial as previously thought.

The survey of more than 650 members of the UK public found that 55% of respondents would prefer their boss to be positioned in a private office rather than sitting in with rest of the team on a daily basis, stating that that would feel more comfortable and achieve higher levels of productivity if this were the case.

These statements were made in direct response to the question, “Would you prefer your boss to work in an open-plan office with you, or be in a private office?” to which 30% responded with the assertion that they would “feel more comfortable” with their manager in a separate office, while 25% insist that they would “be more productive”. The primary reason for this is cited to be a drop in concentration due to additional pressure to perform in the presence of managers.

The survey also revealed that as few as 14.4% of respondents believe that their productivity would improve if their manager were more visible throughout the working day. However not every respondent showed an aversion to open-plan layouts that included management staff, with 29% saying that they would actually enjoy better communication with their manager in an open setting, which would allow them to perform better as a result.

Age does seem to be a factor I whether an employee will take to an open setting or not, as the survey found that those between the ages of 18 and 44 were in favour of such practices while those between the ages of 45 and 64 tend to prefer a more traditional setup with the manager in a private office.

The key takeaway from this report however should not be to abandon the open-plan layout altogether; rather you should endeavour to provide flexibility throughout the office environment, allowing individual workers to situate themselves wherever they feel will best benefit them.

Warren Bricknell, managing director of Dale Office Interiors, commented, “The office as we have known it is becoming defunct. We need to give the users of the space – whether managers or general staff – the choice to work how and where they want to, to suit the task at the time.

“This is the way workspaces will have to go. It may be a desk or a booth, a beanbag or a conference table – but people want choice. It’s about being outcomes-driven rather than having a rigid, traditional office layout and KPIs.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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