How do open offices impact office design?
The concept of a smart office has changed the typical office layout. Bipratip Dhar, Principal Architect, Epsilon Architecture, explains with an example: “The erstwhile office of a construction company in Kolkata’s congested business district wore the ‘departmental’ look of the 1980s, with narrow passages and corridors leading to gated zones. In contrast, we gave its new office in a quieter, more spacious location a modern open design.”
Usually, hierarchy necessitates the creation of multiple enclosed spaces of different sizes to house personal workspaces and meeting rooms separated by corridors, which wastes space, according to Dhar. “Open offices tend to use space more efficiently, be more aesthetic and conducive to the entry of natural light and the use of connectivity technologies, making them comfortable and flexible.”
Connectivity technologies play a large part in integrating the different divisions and subdivisions of an office, continues Dhar. For instance, at the headquarters and centralised laboratory of Suraksha Diagnostics & Eye Centre, Kolkata, technology connects the five floors of the building and branches across the region.
From the functional perspective, “open spaces are more collaborative and conducive to co-locating employees,” says Sameer Joshi, Associate Vice-President, Marketing B2B, Godrej Interio.
Any need for hierarchical division can be met by space segregation. In the aforementioned construction company, Dhar’s team located the executive area towards the north of the premise, taking advantage of the calming views of the waterside, and located the general workstations in the natural light-filled southern periphery.
“In traditional offices, about 30 per cent of the space is kept for meeting rooms but as workstations in open offices are designed for collaborative working, this need has reduced,” notes Joshi. Sometimes, meetings are conducted in open spaces. Consequently, he estimates that open offices can help reduce the need for space by up to 30 per cent.
Overall, the futuristic e-commerce and other emerging sectors are adopting open office designs as are start-ups, where many employees work from home or elsewhere outside the office environment, he adds.
- CHARU BAHRI