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Is open plan office a boom or bane for India’s SMBs?

We explore how the open plan office can help or hinder your business

Article 8

Many Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) have an open plan office. Without cubicles and individual offices, it allows for greater communication and collaboration within the team – all while being cost-effective.

However, critics have pointed out that open plan offices also tend to cause more disruptions and distractions. This generates more stress, decreases creativity and lowers productivity. In addition, the lack of walls also poses health issues, allowing germs to spread around the office more quickly.

Faced with the pros and cons, how do we make the best of an open office layout? Here are three things you can do.

1. Set up diverse spaces

While free communication lines between team members is a good thing, there are some situations where your employees just need some quiet—for example, client calls, business meetings, or when working through difficult work issues.

Carve out some areas dedicated to these functions. Small pods can afford employees some privacy and headspace for one-on-one calls or quiet thinking time. Meeting zones can ensure that your employees are having their discussions away from the main work area, giving them the freedom to debate and discuss ideas as loudly (or softly) as they need. Recreation areas can also be a nice touch, and help ensure that noisy break time activities such as chit chatting do not distract those who are working.

2. Have the right tools for the right job

Setting up diverse zones is only the first step—the second is to ensure that your employees have the right tools to use them.

If your employees have desktop computers, it’s unlikely that they’ll be moving to the pod to work. Consider introducing laptops the next time a tech refresh is needed, so your staff have more mobility both in and out of the office.

Equipping your zones also helps boost productivity by putting your employees in the right frame of mind the moment they step into the area. Here are some ideas for each zone:

Diagram 1


  • Phones
  • “Do not disturb” signs
  • Basic stationery

Diagram 2

Meeting areas

  • White boards
  • Conferencing tools
  • Collaborative displays
Diagram 3

Recreational zone

  • Pool tables
  • Bean bags
  • Exercise equipment

3. Manage the flexibility

It’s crucial to have rules that ensure that these flexible, shared areas are used appropriately. For example, you can set up a booking system for your meeting rooms to ensure that double-bookings do not occur. Soft guidelines like no work talk in the recreational areas, or two-hour limits on pod usage may also work for you. Communicate with your team members before and after putting these rules in place, to ensure that the rules and guidelines work for them.

No office layout is perfect.

It has to suit the people who work in it, and for SMBs, which tend to prioritize teamwork and collaboration, the open plan office can offer benefits that outweigh its flaws. By customizing to your needs, you may be able to mitigate the disadvantages of an open plan office, while enjoying its benefits

Check out devices that drive efficiency. in an open office layout, while helping you save money.

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