Thursday 3 October 2013

Knowle relocation project: open-plan offices

Looking at the proposals to relocate, a local researcher has concluded that:
"It seems EDDC sees open-plan offices as the way forward…"

Agenda Item 12 
17 July 2013
EDDC Office Accommodation

Project Viability Report – Rev D (4) - June 2013

page 91

4.3.0 Spatial analysis layout

4.3.1 Kensington Taylors, Charter Architects (KT), have been assisting EDDC with the Office Accommodation Project since 2010. In August 2012 they prepared spatial analysis drawings advising how a new build office could be laid out. This is not a formal building design but a simple layout that identifies space requirements and departmental functional inter-relationships.
4.2.2 Several options both in desk numbers and space per desk were produced and comments were subsequently returned by Members and Senior Staff.
4.2.3 In the event, a preferred spatial analysis has been identified based upon approximately 7m2 per desk, which together with specific Council, Ancillary and core areas provides an overall gross internal area (GIA) of 3,352m2, incorporating:
 Departments – 1,799 m2 250 desks allowing a space of circa 7.0m2 per desk Storage


The research shows there's considerable doubt about the effectiveness of open-planning:

Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Plan Office Spaces

MAY 16, 2013 VIEWS: 3085
Open plan office spaces can provide a social, more interactive environment for your employees, especially in smaller offices. However, open plan offices will not suit everybody so if you’re considering making the switch to open plan, you may want to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages first.


1. Cost Effective
Having an open plan setting will certainly cut unnecessary costs of hiring additional office space that in all honesty you don’t really need, particularly in the case of smaller businesses. Electricity and heating bills will be cut due to the smaller space; lighting will be used less often due to it being lighter and more airy. It can also accommodate more employees particularly if the business expands and you do not wish or may not be able to relocate.
2. Improves Communication
Open Plan offices make communicating with employees and work colleagues much more efficient and easier. It allows ideas to flow freely with everybody being in the same room and helps the various roles in the office come together effectively. It can help to promote a good professional and personal relationship between colleagues, helping with the overall morale of the office and will encourage them to work as a team as opposed to isolated working in separate offices.
3. Allows Different Departments To Merge Together
A company can run far more competently if the staff is all working in the same room. It’s easier to delegate, discuss ideas and carry out tasks if everyone needed is in close proximity. It makes for much smoother running of the business and gets jobs done far quicker than if everyone was in separate offices.


1. Can Be A Noisy Environment
Those who are easily distracted by noise and what’s going on around you may not perform well in an open plan office. If your office is a generally quiet environment, it could be very disconcerting for your staff. It can be very easy to get preoccupied by what the person at the desk next to you is doing or saying and can leave you very unfocused and likely to make mistakes through lack of concentration.
2. Lack Of Confidentiality
If you have clients or customers visiting the office and they need to discuss certain things they may not want everyone to be privy to the information. It can be tricky to discreetly discuss things in an open plan office, either over the phone or in person. Same goes for your employees, this lack of privacy may not be welcomed in certain situations and does not make it very easy for you to be discreet when dealing with private and personal information.
3. Spreading Of Germs
There’s no doubt that germs spread like wildfire around offices, particularly in the cold and flu season. They will spread even quicker in an open plan office setting, particularly where people are sharing phones, computers and even pens. Expect your staff to take more sick days in an open plan office as germs can be spread much more easily.
Written by Andy D, a contributor at LeraBlog on behalf of Foxhall Business Centres.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Plan Office Spaces

Open-plan offices make employees 'less productive, less happy, and more likely to get sick'

  • Open-plan office workers are exposed to more germs and are more stressed
  • People who have their own space take 62 per cent less sick days
  • They are less productive because they are distracted by other people talking
  • People over the age of 45 are the most distracted by office noises
  • Open plan workers are less motivated and have lower job satisfaction levels

Open-plan offices make employees 'less productive, less happy, and more likely to get sick' | Mail Online
BBC News - The pleasures and perils of the open-plan office
Could open plan offices be bad for your health? - Health News - NHS Choices

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