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Creating an Open Plan Concept Office: A Guide for UK Businesses

Creating an Open Plan Concept Office: A Guide for UK Businesses

The layout of an office plays a crucial role in shaping the working environment and influencing employee productivity, collaboration & wellbeing. A well-designed workplace promotes communication, fosters creativity, and enhances teamwork. One popular office layout that has gained significant traction in recent years is the open plan concept. Let's explore the benefits and considerations involved in creating an open plan office in the UK.

Open Plan vs. Cubicle Layouts: Understanding the Differences

Before delving into the specifics of designing an open plan concept office, it's essential to understand the key differences between open plan and cubicle layouts.

Open Plan Layout:

  • Open plan offices remove physical barriers such as walls and cubicles, creating a spacious and flexible environment.
  • The layout encourages interaction, collaboration, and the sharing of ideas among employees.
  • Open plan offices often feature communal areas, such as breakout zones and shared spaces, to facilitate informal conversations and teamwork.
  • The absence of individual workstations promotes a sense of equality and transparency within the organization.

Open Plan Office Layout

Cubicle Layout:

  • Cubicle or partitioned offices offer individual workspaces enclosed by walls or dividers, providing privacy and reducing distractions.
  • This layout is suitable for tasks that require concentration or confidential discussions.
  • Cubicles can make employees feel isolated and hinder collaboration, leading to reduced communication and teamwork.

Cubicle Office Layout

Pros and Cons of Open Plan Layouts


  1. Improved Communication and Collaboration: Open plan offices facilitate easy and frequent communication, enhancing teamwork, idea sharing, and problem-solving among employees.
  2. Increased Flexibility: The absence of fixed walls allows for easy reconfiguration and adaptability of the workspace, accommodating changes in team size or needs.
  3. Cost-Effective: Open plan layouts often require less construction, saving on building costs and allowing businesses to allocate resources to other areas.
  4. Enhanced Transparency and Equality: An open plan office promotes a sense of transparency and equality by removing hierarchical barriers and encouraging accessibility between employees and management.


  1. Noise and Distractions: Open plan offices can be noisy, leading to distractions that may impact concentration and productivity. Implementing noise reduction strategies and designated quiet areas can mitigate this issue.
  2. Lack of Privacy: The absence of physical barriers can compromise individual privacy, making confidential discussions or sensitive tasks challenging. Designing private meeting rooms or soundproof booths can address this concern.
  3. Potential for Lack of Focus: With constant interaction and visual stimuli, some employees may find it difficult to concentrate on complex tasks. Providing dedicated quiet spaces or allowing employees to work remotely can alleviate this challenge.
  4. Health and Wellbeing: Open plan layouts may increase the risk of spreading illnesses and infections. Employers should implement appropriate hygiene measures and consider the wellbeing of their employees when designing the office.

Designing an Open Plan Concept Office

Now that we understand the significance of workplace layout and the pros and cons of open plan offices, let's explore some essential considerations when designing an open plan concept office in the UK:

  1. Zoning: Create designated areas for different activities, such as collaboration zones, quiet areas, meeting rooms, and breakout spaces. This ensures that employees have suitable spaces for various work requirements.

  2. Furniture and Ergonomics: Choose office furniture that promotes comfort, functionality, and flexibility. Consider ergonomic chairs and adjustable desks to prioritize employee well-being and productivity. Collaborative furniture, like modular seating and flexible workstations, can encourage teamwork and adapt to changing needs.

  3. Acoustics: Implement sound-absorbing materials, such as acoustic panels or ceiling baffles, to reduce noise and improve the overall acoustic environment. Carpets, curtains, and plants can also help dampen sound and create a pleasant atmosphere.

  4. Lighting: Ensure adequate and appropriate lighting throughout the office space. Incorporate natural light whenever possible by maximizing windows and using light-coloured or reflective surfaces. Supplement with artificial lighting that is adjustable, task-oriented, and minimizes glare to promote productivity and employee well-being.

  5. Technology Integration: Consider the integration of modern technology to support communication and collaboration. Provide accessible power outlets, charging stations, and reliable Wi-Fi throughout the office. Incorporate video conferencing capabilities and interactive displays to facilitate virtual meetings and presentations.

  6. Storage and Organization: Implement smart storage solutions to keep the office clutter-free and organized. Consider options like mobile storage or pedestal units, lockers, or integrated storage within desks to maintain a clean and efficient workspace.

  7. Green Spaces and Biophilic Design: Integrate natural elements and greenery into the office design. Incorporate plants, living walls, or even outdoor areas to create a connection with nature. Biophilic design has been shown to improve well-being, reduce stress, and enhance productivity.Moss Wall

  8. Employee Well-being: Prioritize the comfort and well-being of employees by providing amenities such as comfortable breakout areas, dedicated wellness rooms, or even on-site fitness facilities. Encourage movement and promote a healthy work-life balance.

  9. Branding and Identity: Use the office design to reflect the company's brand and values. Incorporate elements that showcase the company's culture, mission, and vision, creating a cohesive and inspiring work environment.

  10. Continuous Evaluation and Adaptation: Regularly assess the office layout and gather feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement. Flexibility and adaptability are key in ensuring the office design evolves with the changing needs of the business and its workforce.

In conclusion, creating an open plan concept office offers numerous benefits in terms of communication, collaboration, flexibility, and transparency. However, it is essential to consider the potential challenges and implement strategies to mitigate any drawbacks. By focusing on thoughtful design, employee well-being, and a balance between open and private spaces, businesses can create a productive and harmonious work environment that fosters creativity, collaboration, and success.
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