Back to blog



Open Office Design - Semi-Private Meeting Space Designed by Studio O+A for Evernote
When you plan your open office design don’t forget accessible semi-private meeting spaces like the one above designed by Studio O+A.

With leading companies like Google, Facebook, Skype, and Microsoft charging forward with open office designs this approach is becoming common place. We have seen a huge demand for this form of interior design for corporate spaces right here in Kelowna, and why not? Mobile technology has allowed us the freedom to work from anywhere and has reduced our footprint by condensing the amount of storage we require to do our jobs, leased space has become more expensive, and the generational profile of our workforce is growing younger and more connected. All of these shifts make having an open office a no-brainer, right? Well, maybe not.

Gensler, an Architectural firm that we at Hatch respect highly, have been studying the effect of design on workplace happiness and productivity for years. Recently they published their most current study and their findings are astounding. Since 2008 workplace efficiency has seen a massive decrease; three quarters of the population is struggling to be efficient on the job. Yes, 75% of us can’t focus at work. Why is this?

Open Office Design - Flexible Spaces designed by Mer for Locomotiv
Flexible spaces that can be used as private offices or collaboration spaces are still necessary to make open office environments work. Above is an example from Stokholm-based MER.


It’s almost impossible to remember how different life was only 5 years ago, but to refresh our memories, Facebook and Twitter were saplings and iPhone was barely a year old! Technology has become a massive part of our everyday lives and this shift was rapid. Connectivity is king, but it’s also the root of our distraction and our inability to focus our attention on the task at hand.

Economic Downturn

When the recession hit many of us were forced to work longer hours. The explosion in technology made this easy, and unfortunately for our personal life, over half a decade of practice, “being on-call” has somehow become the norm.

Mobile Office

We don’t have a specific location for work anymore. The office could be anywhere – at home, in a café, at the airport, across the globe – anywhere. Now the common distraction is fully integrated into our work day.

Open Office Design - Private Collaboration Room by Project Control Group for Lion
For an open office design to be effective, private areas for collaboration like the one above designed by Project Control Group are key.

So, when it makes financial, technological and generational sense to work in open office environments, how can we counteract the negative effects of distraction and inefficiency? Well as we always say, good design is good business – with an educated interior design approach we can help businesses with open office plans be more productive.

Here’s how. Open offices need a well-balanced combination of collaborative spaces and private quite areas as well as individual flexibility. As Gensler found, without balance between collaboration and focus, neither works well. So, collaborative spaces shouldn’t impact private areas where focus is required. To do this commercial interior designers should provide zones for these activities: effective quite spaces for focus, nearby spaces specifically for collaboration, and by providing a combination of flexible private, semi-private work spaces. Employers also have a hand also by allowing their staff to select work areas that best suit their individual needs to be effective at work.

Interested in reading the study? Download it here.

» Want some help with the design of your open office space? Contact Hatch Interior Design located in Kelowna, British Columbia – Sustainable Interior Design Solutions for the Modern Workplace.