The modern tendency is to adopt the open office instead of accommodating departments or sections in separate rooms. An open office refers to a large room where all the departments, men and equipment are housed under a single roof without partitions or walls separating them. Each department or section is allotted a separate space in the same room, which is often separated by placing filing cabinets between them. One or more passage throughout the whole floor may be provided and desks may be arranged facing one way so as to facilitate supervision and easy access.
Open office offer the following advantages:
a. Economical: Open office enable the management to save rent and reduce the cost of office operations since unnecessary partitions and corridors are avoided. Open office make better utilization of office space possible.
b. Better Lighting and Ventilation: Open offices allow a free flow of air and natural light, with the removal of unnecessary walls and partitions which increase the efficiency of the office staff.
c. Better Supervision: Only few supervisors are required to supervise the staff. The worker faces the supervisor and therefore he cannot waste time which encourages better work.
d. Better Communication: A worker is not required to go to another room for consultation, advice or instruction. Open office facilitate better interdepartmental communication.
e. Flexibility: There is a greater flexibility in planning the layout of an open office which ensures more placements of office machines and equipment. Further changes in the layout can be effected without much difficulty.
f. Other Advantages: The other advantages of an open office are:
· Sharing of machines and equipments becomes possible
· Cost of decoration, cleaning and maintenance is low.
· All grades of staff are placed in the same room it creates a democratic set up.
The drawbacks of open office are:
a. Absence of Secrecy: Privacy cannot be maintained in an open office for the work which is done in full view of all the staff.
b. Concentration not Possible: Open offices are not suitable for work which requires concentration of mind, e.g., accounting and statistical work. Moreover, distraction provided by visitors and the general movement of office staff cannot be avoided.
c. Not Business Like Appearance: Too many people working in the same room and moving about their work make an open office look untidy and shabby.
d. Lowering of Self-Esteem: Loss of individuality, reduced sense of belonging to a well-defined group and apparent loss of status among senior staff lowers self-esteem and efficiency of office workers.
e. Noisy: The efficiency of the staff may be reduced and distracted by the noise of telephones and clicking of typewriters and computers.
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