Sydney Office Design: COVID-19 and the End of the Open Plan Office

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The debate around the positives and negatives of the open plan office has been a contentious topic for some time.

However, the enormous majority of modern offices still include an open plan layout.

Whilst this approach to Sydney office design can have positives when it comes to communication, flow of light and affordability, there are concerning issues.

For example, an open plan office is more conducive to stress and mental illness. Moreover, germs and bacteria can spread far more quickly through an open plan space.

This is especially concerning in the current climate, as businesses all over Sydney and Australia struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, it’s essential that after COVID-19 passes, there is a renewed focus on adjusting our office design for better health.

That’ll likely mean the death of the open plan office… and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Cubicles and Partitions

The current open plan working style of bench desks and employees in close quarters simply won’t fly, going forward.

We need to make sure staff are better protected from the spread of germs. However, we also must maintain a balance, where socialisation and communication are not impacted.

No one wants to be entirely isolated throughout the workday.

Therefore, the changes going forward may involve utilising plexiglass screens to ensure particles from coughing, sneezing and talking do not spread from worker to worker.

For dynamic options and expert advice, get an office design company on your side when completing your Sydney office fit-out.


Most open plan offices place workers in close quarters to one another.

However, it’s likely that all new Sydney office design projects will take the 1.5m distancing rule into account.

Maintaining this measure of distance will be one important way to help reduce the spread of germs and bacteria in the office.

Therefore, it’s essential to consider distancing in your office when it comes to completing a Sydney office fit-out.

Create a Less Stressful Space

Many staff in open plan offices have ongoing issues with concentration and stress.

Noise, visual distraction and the inability to relax in such an open environment exacerbate these productivity-killing problems.

Everyone is different and has a different preferred approach to doing their work… whilst some may thrive in a more open space, it’s essential to make your office as stress-free as possible.

Do this by providing flexible workspaces for quiet working, and some separation for staff so they don’t have to be in a loud, open space.

The Cost/Benefit Analysis

Open plan offices present a much cheaper option for companies.

The ability to spend less on an office fit-out and cram more staff into a smaller area is a big reason for the popularity of this design.

However, research has indicated that the negatives of herding staff in like this could actually outweigh the perceived savings.

Illness, stress and distraction all contribute to affect the productivity of staff in open plan offices, influencing the bottom line of a business.

In fact, some research suggests that reverting to partitioned spaces or other kinds of office layouts could see a boost in productivity, as well as the health of office workers.

Carefully consider this before you complete your Sydney office fit-out.

Regular Commercial Cleaning

As well as a decline in the popularity of the open plan office, the regularity of commercial office cleaning must ramp up.

Consistent commercial office cleaning helps to keep germs at bay, as well as eliminate other harmful pollutants like dust and bacteria.

Thankfully, at Niche Projects, we’re partnered with a professional Sydney commercial office cleaning company.

To discuss your Sydney office design or office fit-out, get in touch with Niche Projects here.