Three Factors to Consider when Transitioning to an Open Concept Office

Written by: Kim Moull, AE, Ergonomic Consultant

There are many practical benefits, including energy, cost and space savings that are pushing companies and organizations to transition from the traditional closed office format to an open concept format. Many offices are now being designed to support everyone in one department, or multiple people across many departments, at desks with little to no barriers between them. There are several pros and cons associated with open concept workspaces that could impact both your employees and your organization. Here are three of the many factors to consider when transitioning from a traditional closed or cubicle-style office format to a completely open office.

1. Communication

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A commonly-touted advantage of implementing open concept workspaces is improving communication among a team. Easy access to team members can enhance collaboration, both within and across departments, and improve camaraderie within the office.

2. Performance

Research has shown reports of decreased concentration by employees working in open concept office environments as a result of decreased privacy and increased noise in the workspace. Noise from conversations, copiers, phones, air conditioning, and elevators can be distracting, and ultimately may result in increased stress for employees working on tasks that require a sharp focus. Additionally, a perceived lack of privacy has been linked to low productivity and job dissatisfaction (Oommen et al., 2008). Based on this knowledge, it is important to consider the impacts that noises and other distractions may have on the performance of your team and investigate ways to reduce these factors.

3. Lighting

Optimal lighting intensity is largely task dependent, so much so that the CSA standards for office workstation lighting varies depending on what a worker is doing. Insufficient lighting at work can result in eye strain and headaches for some individuals. If there is task variety among workers in your open workspace, consider implementing different lighting options that each worker can control within their workspace. For example, task lamps might allow each worker in your open workspace to adjust their lighting depending on their preferences and needs.

These are just a few of the many factors to consider when designing an open concept workspace. Being aware of the advantages and potential difficulties associated with this change and developing proactive mitigation measures will support a successful transition. If you are looking for guidance on the optimal ergonomic design for a future or existing open workspace in your office, get in touch with us at Options Inc. today. Using a holistic approach, we can support the consideration of physical, cognitive, social, and environmental factors that might impact your team in an open environment.


Oommen, Vinesh G., Mike Knowles, and Isabella Zhao. "Should health service managers embrace open plan work environments?: A review." Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management 3.2 (2008): 37.

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