Yikes: Open Plan Office Design Hampering Workers' Productivity and Health

An open plan office design is favored by many employers, yet recent research shows that this layout could be hampering your workers' productivity, as well as their health. 

The Open Plan Office Design Negatively Affects Morale

If you've been searching for ways to boost your workers' morale in an effort to increase productivity, chances are you haven't considered making changes to your office layout. The office environment plays an important role in your employees' happiness. The office layout has a lot to do with it, but it's often overlooked. 

In an open office plan, workers face many distractions. There is always something going on nearby. Even if they're not actively listening in on other conversations, the health effects of workplace noise alone are enough to make your employees miserable. It can be hard to concentrate on a project when there is so much else going on around you.

The office temperature is often the cause of disagreements. Some like it warm - some like it cool. There's no way to please everyone. Since you can't provide everyone with their own personal airspace, the temperature issue can be a tough one.

Bad moods are often brought about by working closely together in an open office plan. In turn, someone else's bad mood can affect the rest of the group when they have to hear about it or listen to it all day.  When you're not able to focus or concentrate to get your job done, it can be stressful. There is no escaping this type of stress when you're surrounded by other people's chatter.


Work demands are tough enough, but stress levels tend to be even higher when combined with any of the above open office related issues. Small things that are irritating can add up to become big problems. The stress can cause headaches or worse problems, eventually leading to serious issues like heart disease.

Headphones Don't Help

Using headphones to drown out the noise is actually only replacing noise with music. Music can be distracting - to the person listening to it, and possibly to others nearby. 

It's hard to communicate with someone who has headphones on. Besides that, headphones could prevent them from hearing something important.

Illness Spreads Quickly In An Open Plan Office Design Environment

Illnesses spread quickly in an open office environment when one worker catches a cold or the flu. With one sneeze, germs are in the air. This means not only one sick employee but several, all at the same time. If there's a deadline for a project, this can be disastrous.

Partitions and cubicles aren't much help during cold and flu season, as the germs travel through the air. Germs move even faster in a completely open office space. 

Allergies can be brought on just by being near someone who is in steady contact with something that you're allergic to. If one of your workers has a cat allergy and their co-worker has cats, the chances of them having an allergic reaction are high.

Odors In the Open Plan Workplace

Odors can be a big problem in the workplace. A co-worker's lack of proper hygiene is bad enough, but the strong smell of perfume or cologne can be irritating, too. Not everyone has the same taste in designer fragrances, and overdoing it makes it seem as though the scents are competing against each other in intensity.

Workers tend to snack or even eat entire meals at their desks when they're in a crunch and need to get things done. This can send smells drifting throughout the entire room that may not be pleasant to everyone. The different food aromas as they meld together can be distracting, to say the least.

Increase In Employee Turnover

More often than not, when workers are unhappy, they start looking for another job. They don't always express their concerns beforehand. 

Employee dissatisfaction could be the reason for an increase in employee turnover. A lot of good workers can be lost in the process, without you ever knowing the real reason why.

Workers Need Their Own Office Quiet Space

Everyone likes their privacy. Even though employee social interaction is encouraged, it's always nice to have a safe haven to retreat to. Just because it's a workplace doesn't mean that a worker shouldn't be able to have their privacy. Respecting their space shows them that their value is appreciated.

Social interaction is good when it comes to collaborating on a project. However, working closely together in an open space eventually leads to personal discussions. It's great for everyone to get to know each other, but too many personal conversations can slow down productivity.

Working in a large space with so many people causes insecurity. Locking your personal items in your desk is one thing, but if you forget to lock it, or accidentally leave something lying out, it can easily be stolen. Even having inexpensive items like your pens continually being taken from your desk gets frustrating.

open plan office design

The Solution to Open Plan Office Designs

While some of these issues may seem minor, they all interfere with productivity. There will always be distractions, but an open office plan makes it twice as hard to concentrate on the job at hand.

Of course, giving everyone their own private office is not necessarily the solution. It would also be costly to rebuild your entire office in order to do so.

An open office design plan still makes good sense when it comes to cost. Also, an open office is a great option for teamwork when groups need to interact with each other.

That's why Zenbooth offers the best alternative to creating spaces for your workers to retreat to when they need some privacy. 

How Zenbooth Meeting Pods Works

A Zenbooth is a one to two person eco-friendly, portable, sound proof booth that can be placed in a strategic location in your open office.

Zenbooth office pods are the perfect way to offer your employees a place to work without any interruptions or distractions.

Installing one or more of these fully self-contained units saves money on costly office renovations. These privacy pods are installed within hours, and can be easily moved as needed with the aid of slider pads.  

Your workers will have everything they need in order to work in comfort. Each Zenbooth is fully equipped with motion-sensors that start the high-power exhaust fans in motion once someone enters. Electrical and USB power outlets are also pre-installed, so all they have to do is plug in their laptops and they're all set. Self-closing door hinges allow the Zenbooth's doors to close automatically and quietly.

Increased Productivity

By providing your workers with this option, you'll soon notice an increase in productivity. You can negate the cons of an open office, and keep all the pros. Being able to speak freely on an important phone call can make a huge difference in the outcome of a sales acquisition. Not having to hear phones ringing in the background provides more clear-headed thinking ability. 

There are many other ways that privacy can improve work quality. The increased revenue will be proof that the Zenbooth is a great business investment. 

To hear more about our Zenbooths and to discover which would work best for your company, give us a call today. We'll be happy to help you come up with a solution to restore productivity and employee satisfaction at your business.

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