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Yet another Debate on the Open Plan Offices

Social networking giant Facebook have announced that their new headquarter offices will be based in California and will feature the largest office open floor plan in the world. The new headquarters will accommodate 3000 people over a single floor with the area covering over 10 acres.

The real question remains whether the open plan system offices are just suited to the companies and architects, without taking into account the employees needs. Open plan offices, were a drastic rethink from architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Duffy.

It was however in the 1960s that the idea or remnants of the idea came from Robert Propst. Propst was a designer for Herman Miller and when researching into office behaviour, he found that employees had their best ideas or were more productive when they were away from their desk. Using this idea, research that was carried out by American University MIT, headed by Thomas Allen in 2006 found that people work best when communicating with each other usually away from their office desk or within a 50 metre radius of it. Not only this, but it seemed that more important topics within the office were best discussed faced to face. It is for these reasons that the open plan style office idea was born.

There are, however drawbacks in the open plan office design, perhaps not for employers but for employees. The most common disadvantage or problem is that employees feel that their privacy has been taken away. You can argue, "why do they need such privacy?" but the fact remains that this is having an effect on the employees morale. Not only this but employees, are taken out of their comfort sphere and when moved into an open plan office space or working on an office bench system, you cannot personalise the desk in the same way that you can a cubicle and ultimately the individuality is lost.

Posted by: Office Reality

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