Should HR Managers Support the Open Floor Plan Concept?

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Human resources professionals have differing opinions on open floor plans. Some love them, while others think this type of layout comes with too many negatives. In fact, there really doesn’t seem to be a consensus. Much may depend upon the type of work being performed, along with other factors like corporate culture. Let’s examine whether HR managers should support the open floor plan concept, what the downsides may be and how to get the most out of an open plan for those who do decide to put it into practice.

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Pros of Open Floor Plan Concepts

There are advantages to these types of floor plans. One of the primary benefits is that an open plan invites collaboration. When co-workers can easily look across the room and see the person who could help them, they’re more likely to reach out. It also inspires community. People chat and get to know each other more when they’re easily accessible. An open plan invites transparency. Upper management works alongside everyone else, so the barriers that often exist within the corporate structure are minimized.

Cons of Open Floor Plan Concepts

While many human resources professionals are in favor of open floor plans, there are just as many (maybe more) who are quite opposed to them for a number of reasons. Some workers don’t like the lack of privacy and find working in an open environment to be distracting. There may be lowered productivity in such cases, along with employee turnover if workers decide they need to work in a different type of environment. It’s also possible that an open work setting can facilitate the spread of germs, making employees sick more frequently and leading to increased sick days. Some HR leaders believe this type of working atmosphere can lead to conflict and distrust among employees, causing a corporate culture of turmoil.

Tips for Open Floor Plan Concepts

Open floor plan concepts don’t have to be completely without privacy. Managers should consider their corporate culture and needs when planning spaces. Privacy can be created through the use of screens, partitions or even with fully enclosed offices for when such an environment is needed.

Something to consider when deciding whether to implement an open concept is the feedback from employees. If a vast majority of current or prospective staff members say they wouldn’t work well within such conditions, it’s definitely worth taking that information seriously. Employee morale plays a significant role in productivity and general company culture. It may not be worth sacrificing these things for a particular floor plan.

Consider adding movable furniture and temporary fixtures in order to have flexibility in setting up workspaces as needed. This is particularly useful for accommodating various work groups. Finally, try to have quiet spaces or a private room that’s available to everyone for times when workers do need their own space. This will alleviate an all-or-nothing approach to open workspace concepts and is a compromise to meeting everyone’s needs.

Whether open floor spaces are better than more traditional working environments remains to be seen. There are pros and cons to this type of setup. What matters most is whether it will work with each business’s unique needs. Human resources officials have much to consider when deciding whether to implement open floor plans.

Source: The HR Digest

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