Allwin Training & the Open-plan Office Dilemma

Allwin Training & the Open-plan Office Dilemma

Case study: Allwin Training & the Open-plan Office Dilemma

Table of Contents

Executive Summary. 3

Introduction. 4

The Pros and Cons of Open-Plan Office Designs. 4

Application of Open-Plan Office Design in Allwin Training. 6

Summary and Conclusions. 8

Recommendations. 8

References. 10

Executive Summary

Office plan has an extensive impact on the operation of an organization and the performance of its employees. Every organization desires an organized workspace where workers can perform their duties with maximum comfort and effectively without hindrances. Open-plan office layout offers an opportunity for organizations to enjoy numerous benefits as it allows for maximum utilization of the available space and resources. Organizations can easily reconfigure their offices if they adopt this plan and enjoy an effective flow of operations. Nevertheless, this layout reduces concentration on work among employees, particularly since there are high levels of disturbance due to factors such as noise. Open space offices present reduced privacy which reduces employee comfort and innovation adversely affecting their performance. Employees working in these environments have reduced levels of well-being due to the discomfort they experience, a factor that hampers their performance. Nevertheless, these challenges can be managed if organizations can develop measures that can help in discouraging noises and promote privacy.   

Case study: Allwin Training & the Open-plan Office Dilemma

Introduction

Every office needs to develop an organized workspace for the workers to perform their duties comfortably and effectively. Office plans vary based on the needs of a firm and its employees. Although some organizations benefit from open floor plans, others require separate cubicles for their employees. In most cases, it is necessary to have a variety of plans, for instance, private offices for senior staff, team enclosures for different departments or staff that do similar tasks, and cubicles for sensitive departments such as accounts. The layout of an office determines the organizational hierarchy and influences employee performance and comfort, as well as the working environment. An apt plan enhances the overall look and feel of business space and encourages employees to operate in an organized manner. The nature of an office plan is determined by a variety of factors such as the desire to realize maximum benefit from the available space. The office layout is based on the principle of division of labor since each task requires the input of various departments. Therefore, there is a need to ensure that tasks are done systematically from one part to the other.  In such a case, the floor plan must ensure the smooth flow of operations to enhance proper task completion. However, faulty or improper office plans may lead to unnecessary wastage of space, energy, and time, which may have adverse impacts on delivery.

The Pros and Cons of Open-Plan Office Designs

The open-space plan is one of the most preferred office layouts around the world. It is an effective strategy that allows maximum space and resource utilization (Turner, 2015). In fact, most organizations reduced their operational costs significantly with open office layouts (Duval, Charles, & Veitch, 2002). The advantage has encouraged 70 percent of employers to adopt open work-environments in the United States and China (Wong, 2013). Thus, open plan office layouts are the most common today because the save resources while maintaining high productivity.

The open plan design is easy to reconfigure to conform to changes in organizational structure and size. In some cases, firms may have an additional staff or require some do so specific projects at a given time. In such cases, the involved individuals can be allocated a certain part depending on their number (Piotrowski & Rogers, 2010). The same applies when a firm introduces a new department or office. The most management can do is using short panels to show that certain sections are different from the others. Therefore, open plan layouts provided the flexibility needed when a firm needs additional staff, departments, or offices.

Open plan office layouts allow sequential workflow. In most cases, documents or products have to be moved from one department to another. The process is much easier in open plan layouts since managers can organize them depending on the production process followed. In addition, it is easier to rearrange in the case there are additional elements needed within the office or production process. Therefore, open plan layouts allow firms to move documents and products systematically according to their structure.

Organizations save time with the open plan office layout. Employees have common equipment that they access depending on their needs. It is also easier to approach their colleagues working in other departments for consultations with ease. In addition, the supervisors and managers can oversee the work faster by walking through the aisles and checking on the various employees. Therefore, open space office layouts allow employees and managers to do their work faster.

Open-space office designs impact on employees’ abilities to concentrate on their work. Grouping employees creates a noisy environment since many discuss various issues related to their work (Jahncke et al., 2011). In addition, they have to interact as they share common equipment such as phones, printers, stationery, and other office materials. The increased noise may affect some of the employees since they may not concentrate on their work well. Therefore, the noise and interactions common in open-plan office layouts may have serious implications on some employees, which may affect their performance and productivity.

Employees working in open offices experience reduced privacy. The presence of many people within the same space hinders employee discussions with supervisors (Duval et al., 2002). Others may have challenges conversing with their spouses and friends through calls since their coworkers may decipher the conversation based on their responses. In addition, embarrassing behaviors and errors might be seen or heard by co-workers, which may make some uncomfortable. The lack of privacy makes employees feel like they are continuously being watched and may make them unproductive.

Open office spaces reduce employee well-being and productivity. The welfare of a person is closely related to their level of satisfaction in the company or workplace (Rockwool Rockfon, n.d). Therefore, a noisy or crowded work environment may adversely affect an individual’s well-being and behavior. Moreover, some people dislike distractors that may hinder their concentration. Such individuals may be unwilling to work with their colleagues, which may have an impact on the overall performance of teams. Therefore, the open plan office layout makes some employees uncomfortable, which hinders their teamwork contribution and productivity.

Application of Open-Plan Office Design in Allwin Training

Allwin Training should adopt open plan layout in its new office block. The plan will allow increased interaction among the different individuals working in the office. In fact, employees are happier and more productive when they interact freely among themselves and with their supervisors in a creative and inspiring setting (Rockwool Rockfon, n.d). Unlike traditional formal meeting rooms, modern-day offices include informal shared spaces such as coffee bars or lounges meant for impromptu get-togethers and casual interactions. The shared spaces allow employees to exchange ideas and mutual support, which may increase performance among employees and the organization. Thus, Allwin Training should implement an open space plan for better employee relationship and performance.

The new Allwin Training office will offer high flexibility. The firm can modify the spaces easily within a short time and at the lowest cost. Allwin Training will have agile office interiors that will enable the organization to adjust the workspace according to need quickly and easily. A change in the office floor plan demands an alteration of the ceiling plan to ensure the room’s acoustic performance rhymes with the changing desires of the occupants and to facilitate easy access to services. Allwin training new open-plan office will allow it to change it according to its needs and those of the employees easily whenever there is a need for change.

An open office format promotes openness and heightens interaction and flexibility. Many companies are adopting the layout to create inspiring spaces that replicate the openness and energy of the organization (Rockwool Rockfon, n.d). The implementation of the plan may include showcasing initially hidden areas such as meeting rooms and production areas. These changes may be used by organizations as a way of promoting their value and brand to visitors, customers, and prospective employees. Therefore, open plan office allows a firm to market itself to potential employees, customers, and stakeholders.

Open plan spaces offer increased sustainability with low demand for lighting and construction materials. Acoustically-friendly rooms with sufficient lighting and moderate temperatures increase employee satisfaction, wellbeing, comfort, and productivity while reducing employee absenteeism and turnover (Rockwool Rockfon, n.d). Most companies use thermal mass to promote sustainability and reducing environmental impact. Thus, Allwin Training will be contributing to sustainable and environmentally-friendly organizational practices. The firm’s actions are consistent with the growing awareness of sustainable building standards and rating systems encouraged by architects and environment conservation experts. Therefore, Allwin Training decision to implement the open plan office will allow it to save energy and resources thereby contributing to sustainable environment campaigns. 

Summary and Conclusions

Open space office layouts present numerous advantages and disadvantages to organizations and their employers. On the one hand, it enables organizations to use the spaces to the maximum without any wastage. In addition, organizations reduce operating expenses and time spent accessing equipment, stationery, and other office resources. Firms also reduce building cost since there is no need for office partitioning material. The open plan brings employees closer and allows sharing of ideas that may promote productivity. Nevertheless, distractions, noises, and congestion common in such layouts may hamper concentration and performance of some employees. In addition, there is a lack of privacy that may make some employees uncomfortable thereby reducing their performance. Open plan offices increase interaction among employees and increased productivity, but may lead to discomfort and poor performance among others.

Recommendations

Open space office layout offers numerous benefits such as reduced space wastage, low operational costs due to the sharing of resources, low office construction costs since no partitions are needed, and decreased wastage of time. Therefore, Allwin Training should consider the model now that it is experiencing financial constraints. Nevertheless, the firm has to find ways to address noises and unnecessary movements during working hours. The firm can use relatively high divider panels to have sit-down privacy for employees (Piotrowski & Rogers, 2010). They can also use taller panels for conference rooms and upper-level managers (Piotrowski & Rogers, 2010). The firm can also use the variable ceiling to contain noise throughout the office floor (Burton, 2013). It can also consider providing special areas for employees to make calls whenever they need to contact their relatives or make sensitive calls. Allwin Training stands to gain immensely by using the open floor plan as long as it addresses the challenges associated with the layout.    

References

Burton, S. (2013). Energy-efficient Office Refurbishment: Designing for Comfort. London: Routledge.

Duval, C. L., Charles, K. E., & Veitch, J. A. (2002). Open-plan office density on environmental satisfaction. Ottawa: National Research Council of Canada.

Jahncke, H., Hygge, S., Halin, N., Green, A. & Dimberg, K. (2011). Open-plan office noise: Cognitive performance and restoration, Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31 (4), 373-382.

Piotrowski, C.M., & Rogers, E.A. (2010). Designing Commercial Interiors. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Rockwool Rockfon (n.d). Can employees finally fall in love with open-plan offices?: A Collection of Interior Acoustic Design. http://rwiumbraco-rfn.inforce.dk/media/921489/inspired%20by%20you%202012-10%20grp.pdf

Turner, S. H. (2015). The influence of open plan work-environments on the productivity of employees: the case of engineering firms in Cape Town. Problems and Perspectives in Management, 13(2), 51-56.

Wong, V. (2013). Ending the tyranny of the open-plan office. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-07-01/ending-the-tyranny-of-the-open-plan-office

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