Challenges of open plan offices and how to overcome them (realistically).

Which office layout is better for productivity?

Realistic Refits: the challenges of open plan offices and how to overcome them

In this study we attempt to answer the age old question – which office layout is better for productivity? Comprising a series of separate blogs, our mission is to unravel the intricacies of office design – because let’s face it, office workers out there are tired of being Guinea pigs for collaborative work spaces versus private office layouts.

The Open Office Conundrum

With the vast majority of us now working in open concept offices,  companies are being forced to come up with novel ways to ensure we stay productive and don’t find ourselves driven delirious from the noise and chaos.


Ironic isn’t it?


Especially considering the open office concept was designed to encourage greater teamwork and collaboration. In an ideal world uplifting physical barriers would and should promote equality and openness, which would in turn boost worker efficiency and productivity.


We do not live an ideal world.


Open-plan offices have ever since their conception been subject to immense scrutiny,  giving cause for complaint relating to noise, distraction and a lack of privacy. A growing body of evidence suggested that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve, damaging the attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction of workers. Talk about backfiring…..


But there are those out there, who argue that open offices can foster collaboration when done right. Interior designers have seen the modern office change and then change again over the decade, and state that the open office conundrum is merely a matter of problem solving and better planning.


How to love your open plan office


Despite all the backlash, and given that organisations need to contain their office space costs, the open plan office is is ‘here to stay’ and the emergence of agile working environments has become a key factor in solving disruptive offices.

Break Out Zone by DB Interiors.


Businesses needs to revise their floor plans and experiment with segmented work areas and innovate their way out of the open office ‘Catch 22’. Key team silo’s and departments should be placed strategically throughout the open space.


Provide dedicated quiet spaces and alternate settings


These spaces are designated for non-group work and can help provide a place for workers to be more productive than at a shared desk or in a cube less office. In contrast, businesses can also designate areas around the office that encourage interaction and discussion.

“The Caravan Booth” an occasional office escape to recharge and revamp.


Bring in sound absorbing materials without sacrificing design.


The industry responded to noise problems by creating an array of products to lessen the impact of noise. Acoustic panels hung on walls or ceilings help soften sound whilst considering design aesthetics. The traditional open-plan creates obvious noise problems so segregation of the work areas into smaller pockets of space can be effective. Likewise the introduction of acoustic masking systems and wall treatments can offer further improvements on managing sound in an open-plan office.

“Phone Booth” with noise absorbing qualities.


Looking for a more natural option?

Similar to planting trees along a loud highway, plants boast sound absorbing capabilities that can work just as effectively in an indoor environment as an outdoor setting.

Even altering lighting can have a positive impact, such as adding alternative lights for quiet working settings.

Refit in action| Planter Boxes




Refit in action | Casual Collaboration


Refit in action