Cubicles have gotten a lot of hate over the years, but it turns out that completely open office floor plans might be just as bad.
Let’s talk about the downsides to an open office and why you might consider glass walls instead.
The Downsides to an Open Office
For years, open office floor plans have been popular among office designers and company executives alike.
First, open offices often look beautiful, unlike the cubicles of yore. Instead of erecting sad-looking brown cubicle walls, companies have opted to arrange desks in groups throughout the space. Open office floor plans offer more freedom in design, more natural light, and less expense.
Second, open office floor plans promised to increase communication among employees and foster a more democratic company culture—especially important for less hierarchical start-ups.
However, while open office floor plans may deliver on the first point by being aesthetically pleasing, they are failing on the second. Dozens of news articles report that employees find open offices to be distracting (thanks to the increased noise) and invasive (thanks to the lack of privacy). When constantly on display to their coworkers and bosses, employees tend to worry more about whether they “look” productive instead of whether they actually are productive.
The result, according to one study done at the Harvard Business School, is that open offices have actually led to a decrease in productivity and employee happiness.
In short, it seems that the upsides of open office floor plans—i.e., the nice aesthetics and ability to communicate with your coworkers on a whim—do not make up for the downsides mentioned above. It turns out that open office floor plans are often a better idea in theory than they are in reality.
Glass: An Alternative to the Open Office
So if not free-form desk arrangements, how should a company arrange its office space? Are ugly cubicle walls an inevitability?
Instead of cubicle walls, consider installing glass walls.
Glass walls have all of the same upsides as an open floor plan. They make the space look open, airy, spacious, and bright. They foster an environment of transparency, communication, and collaboration. They look beautiful and elegant. But most importantly, glass walls have fewer downsides than an open office floor plan.
Glass walls allow less noise than an open office, which positively impacts worker productivity. With glass walls separating work spaces, employees will no longer be forced to endure the maddening pen-clicking of their desk mates or wear headphones in order to get their job done.
Furthermore, using glass walls to separate work spaces can allow natural light to filter through while maintaining some privacy. This is because glass comes in a variety of finishes and textures, from completely transparent to frosted and opaque. Film can also be applied to glass to reduce glare and transparency. Transparent glass can be used to surround “public” areas with no need for privacy, while textured glass can separate private, individual work stations and meeting rooms. The use of textured glass combats the privacy-related productivity decrease found in open offices.
With glass, your company can maximize both the beauty and productivity of its office space.
Need Help with Commercial Glass Design?
Jack’s Glass has been a leader in commercial glass design for more than 70 years. We don’t just sell glass: we partner with business owners to create polished, professional glass designs ranging from show-stopping storefronts to beautiful and functional walled floor plans. Jack’s Glass also uses only the safest, highest quality glass and materials to ensure lasting construction.
Whether you need help with new construction, remodeling, or replacement, contact the experts at Jack’s Glass.
Call us today to talk about your office space.