How to Increase Productivity in an Open Office Plan

March 03, 2023 / Written by Corporate Suites Staff

Some of the ways to increase productivity in an open office plan is by implementing noise canceling technology and providing some private spaces for employees. The key to increasing productivity with an open office plan is flexibility. It’s all about trying new things and finding what works for your business, your employees, and the culture you’re trying to establish.

Open office plans are becoming increasingly popular in workplaces, as they offer a variety of benefits, from facilitating collaboration to increasing communication. 

However, open offices can also be quite distracting and noisy, impeding employee productivity. If you’re considering an open office plan for your workplace or already have one set up, there are specific steps you can take to ensure that the layout is conducive to maximum productivity. 

From implementing noise-canceling technology to providing private spaces for employees when needed, this article will discuss how employers and business owners can increase their team’s efficiency in an open office plan.

Defining the Open Office Plan

An open office plan, also known as an open-plan layout, is a type of work environment designed to maximize collaboration and communication between employees. 

It typically involves arranging desks, chairs, and other furniture in a large communal area without partitions or walls. It eliminates most cubicles or individual offices and encourages workers to communicate more freely with one another.

Open Office Plans – The Pros

An open office plan can be beneficial for both the employer and employees. It facilitates collaboration, communication, and camaraderie among staff. 

With the removal of physical separation between workstations, workflows are smoother, allowing teams to better navigate their projects and deadlines. The atmosphere of an open office plan encourages a sense of shared commitment to the organization’s mission and goals. 

Additionally, removing walls between desks also reduces costs by saving on space and eliminating any dedicated conference rooms or privacy features needed in a traditional layout. 

From boosting productivity to cutting costs, an open office plan can be a powerful tool for employers hoping to drive success in their company.

More Collaboration

Open office plans promote collaboration by encouraging employees to interact with each other more frequently. The lack of partitions allows team members to easily see what others are working on and have quick conversations, often leading to new ideas or solutions.

Better Communication

Without physical barriers in the way, employees can share ideas more easily and without feeling hindered by their surroundings. 

Open office plans reduce email usage and increase face-to-face interaction, which helps bridge the gap between departments or team members in different parts of a building.

Helps With Creativity

They can be beneficial for creativity. The informal atmosphere and lack of visual barriers can help spark creative thinking, resulting in more innovative ideas.

The Accountability Factor

Employees are more likely to be held accountable for their work without physical barriers to hide behind in an open office plan. This encourages them to stay on task and produce quality results.

It Can Benefit the Company’s Culture

Open office plans are beneficial for promoting positive company culture. By placing employees in close proximity to one another, it encourages team bonding and an overall sense of unity among workers.

Open Office Plans – The Challenges

An open office plan can be beneficial for fostering collaborative work, but it is not without its challenges. Not every worker is suited for the open-office layout, as it increases exposure to noise and visual distractions that can be overwhelming. 

The lack of privacy may also lower job satisfaction, hinder productivity, and make workers feel vulnerable to judgment from colleagues. Additionally, having teams or departments physically separated by walls makes it difficult to collaborate and communicate with each other easily. 

Open offices also tend to spread germs more efficiently, which can lead to higher levels of absenteeism due to illness. 

Lastly, the lack of dedicated workspaces can often lead to clutter and disorganization among teams, creating a poor working environment that only adds additional stress to employees. Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail.


The biggest challenge of an open office plan is the increase in background noise. Without any physical barriers, it can be difficult to concentrate on a task when there are loud conversations and other noises happening around you. 

It can also make it hard for employees to have private conversations without others overhearing.

A Shortage of Privacy

In addition to the noise, open office plans can make it difficult for employees to have any privacy. Without physical walls or dividers, anyone in the area can see what others are working on and eavesdrop on private conversations.

There Could Be Too Much Interaction

The lack of physical barriers can also make it difficult to determine the correct modes of interaction when communicating with colleagues. 

In an open office plan, it may be hard for employees to determine when a quick conversation is appropriate or if a private meeting should be scheduled.

Open Offices and Productivity – What the Experts Say

Studies have found that an open office plan can actually reduce productivity. The reasons for this mostly come down to distractions from noise and casual, unnecessary interactions with other employees.

Adobe found in their research that open office layouts lead to substantially more interruptions from other employees, significantly reducing productivity.

The bottom line: Use an open office layout, but spend time and resources on removing distractions. So how do you go about it? We’re here to help.

Methods for Increasing Productivity in an Open Office Plan

As we stated above, integrating an open office plan can sometimes have the opposite effect of reducing work productivity. 

Fortunately, employers can deploy many practical strategies to ensure their staff remain productive in this type of workspace. For example, managers can create designated quiet zones for employees who need to complete a task with minimal distractions. 

Additionally, employers should ensure proper acoustic insulation so that any loud conversations do not interfere with workers in adjacent areas. It is also important to allocate regular breaks throughout the day to allow employees to take their minds off work or converse amongst themselves away from their desks. 

By using some simple tactics, employers can ensure their staff remains productive and inspired even when working in an open office setting. Here are a few more tips you can try.

Be Mindful With Design

One of the most essential strategies for increasing productivity in an open office plan is to design the space with employee needs in mind. This means using sound-dampening materials on walls and ceilings to reduce background noise levels, such as acoustic panels or carpeting. 

It also involves providing a variety of spaces throughout the office that allows employees to work more independently or to have private conversations.

Try Time Blocking

Time blocking involves scheduling blocks of time throughout the day for specific tasks, such as writing or research, and then focusing on that task until it’s completed before moving on to the next one.

Implement a WMS

Work management systems allow teams to track and manage tasks, assign deadlines, and collaborate on projects without exchanging emails or holding lengthy meetings. It can help reduce distractions and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal.

Sound Masking Is Huge

Sound masking involves playing background noise to reduce the distraction caused by conversations in an open office plan. It can also help create a more comfortable working environment and increase focus levels.

Get Employees Involved

Encourage employees to come up with ideas for making the open office plan more conducive to productivity and present them in a constructive manner. It’s also important to listen to employee feedback so that any changes implemented benefit everyone.

Explore Other Types of Sound Dampening

In addition to sound masking, adding acoustic panels or other sound-absorbing materials to the walls and ceilings of an open office plan can help reduce the background noise levels. 

This will create a more comfortable working environment and allow employees to focus better on their tasks.

Find the Balance That Works for You

Consider an open office plan that consists of a healthy balance of both open and private spaces. 

A few private areas, such as conference rooms or quiet zones, allow employees the opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the open area whenever needed. This way, they won’t feel overwhelmed or distracted by the noise and can focus on their tasks when needed.

Say No to Hot Desking

Hot-desking is the practice of having each employee occupy a different desk or workspace every day, and it can be very disruptive for your workforce. 

It prevents people from developing their personal space within the office and reduces productivity as employees must constantly readjust to their surroundings.

With these strategies in place, it’s possible to increase productivity in an open office plan, but it’s important to also remember that every team is different and may need other solutions. 

The key is to experiment and adjust as needed until you find the right combination of strategies that works for your team.


How can I be productive in an open plan office?

An open plan office can be a great asset to productivity, but it’s essential to take the right approach to ensure that it works for your team. 

To make an open office productive, you should consider sound masking, implementing work management systems, practicing time blocking, and balancing open workspaces with private ones. Additionally, try and avoid hot-desking as this can reduce productivity.

How open office plans affect workplace productivity?

Open office plans have become increasingly popular in many businesses because they facilitate collaboration and reduce costs. While the open office promotes interaction between colleagues, it can interfere with the concentration needed for complex tasks. 

This can lead to lower productivity levels for those involved in more specialized work. Despite this drawback, there are strategies that managers can use to mitigate these detriments, such as creating designated “silent zones” or private rooms where employees can focus on specific projects. 

Additionally, providing noise-canceling headphones and ensuring that conversations are kept at a reasonable volume could help workers stay productive while still enjoying the benefits of an open office plan.

How do you work efficiently in open space office?

Working efficiently in an open office space requires the right combination of strategies. Sound masking, acoustic panels, and creating private areas are all critical elements to consider. 

Implementing work management systems such as time-blocking and task lists can help employees stay on track with their tasks. Finally, encouraging employees to develop ideas for making the workspace comfortable and productive can also be a great asset.

How do you design an office for high productivity?

Designing an office for maximum productivity can be a challenge. The key is to strike the right balance between comfort, aesthetics, and practicality. 

Furniture should be ergonomic, adjustable, and comfortable; windows should let in plenty of natural light; color schemes should stimulate but not overwhelm; and layouts should be open and easy to move around in. 

Desk organization is also important, with appropriate storage solutions for tech and other materials. Convenient access to snacks, drinks, and break areas can help increase morale by providing employees with a respite from work during the day.

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