Nov 10th 2017

10 Ways to Make an Open Office Bearable

John Stein

Recent trends in office space design have geared away from the isolated confines of the cubicle and towards a more open office environment.

An open office inherently supports collaboration and socialization—this isn’t just good for business, it also has a positive effect on the workers themselves, giving employees the incentive to work hard, work smart, and stick around for the long haul.

These 10 open office layout ideas represent some of the best examples with regard to functionality, aesthetics, and office productivity.

1. The Office Booth

Open offices are great, but when looking for ways to create segmented, private, and more acoustically separate spaces for meetings, flexibility is a huge bonus. For instance, these office booths are constructed from a plug-and-play modular system that allows you to create spatial hubs on the fly that look just as good as they function.

2. Organize Your Wires

Nothing says ‘cluttered and disorganized’ like a messy bundle of ethernet cables, power cords, and surge protectors behind every workstation in the office. Hiding your wires behind a piece of furniture or other design element can go a long way to making your open office feel cleaner, which can translate to a more productive workforce. Slyde Charging Solutions makes these desktop charging stations that make sure your wires disappear along with your anxiety.

3. Bring the Exterior In

Introducing design features that might typically be reserved for outdoor spaces can add a bit of whimsical excitement to your open office environment. Fire pits, zen gardens, water features, and even fully grown trees create a unique sense of place that can have a positive effect on your brand image, and make people feel good about coming into work every day.

4. Multi-Purpose Workspaces

For open offices to get the most out of the available square footage, space allocations should be flexible enough to serve more than a single purpose. Multi-purpose workspaces can serve as individual desks, breakout rooms, conference rooms, and just about everything in-between. Invest in furniture and partition systems like these from Kirei that can be easily manipulated based on the functional needs at the time.

5. Color Code Your Work Environment

Open offices have a tendency to feel unorganized and chaotic if a proper framework doesn’t exist to help you understand how certain spaces can be best used.

Using color to designate sections of functional space can immediately train people to occupy those spaces for the purpose they were intended. This helps avoid confusion, and can even double as bold design elements that help bolster brand identity.

6. Dropped Ceilings in Private Meeting Spaces

The best way to organize an open office is to use eye-catching design elements to help define interior space and set up various hubs of functional activity. Acoustically, it can be tricky to provide private spaces with enough separation to make them feel comfortable and fully usable.

Using ceiling solutions like the Echo Star from Kirei will help reduce sound reflection and echoing within an open office, effectively controlling the acoustic environment as well as the visual one.

7. Flexible Storage

The most attractive feature of an open office is the ability to let it expand and transform as the needs of the company change over time.

An effective way to establish this capability is to organize the office with movable, modular storage partitions. These can be moved around to reallocate space for meetings, presentations, or individual work stations, with the added benefit of providing functionality and storage.

8. Lofted Second Floor

If your office space has tall enough ceilings—and many open-offices do—it can suffer from a range of acoustic control problems. One way to remedy this is to construct a lofted mezzanine that not only helps to modulate the movement of sound, but also adds space that can be used for conference rooms, gathering spaces, or additional offices.

9. Exposed Ceiling Structure

As a design element, an exposed structure ceiling creates movement, intrigue, and even tells a bit of history about how the building was designed. Functionally, it can act as an acoustic baffle that keeps noise transmission down and the interior acoustic environment healthy. An exposed structure ceiling also helps unify your open office and makes visual sense of what can otherwise be a rather chaotic scenario.

10. Shipping Container Rooms

Shipping containers have been a recent trend, and while they don’t always make sense from a construction standpoint, using them as private rooms in a large open office can help distribute square footage and cultivate a unique, industrial aesthetic. Logistically, it might be difficult getting a twenty foot shipping container into an office space, but for adaptive reuse overhauls it is something to be considered.

Designing a More Productive Future

The trend of a more open, collaborative workspace is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Ensuring that your open office design maintains a lively, collaborative environment and meets productivity standards is achievable, with the right products and solutions in mind. You can check out a few of our other articles for more ideas on designing beautiful, productive open offices.