Office Fit Out: Open Plan vs Partitioned Spaces

08-September-2021 12:44
in General
by Admin

Having the right layout for your office can have a huge impact on your employees. Before you start your office fit-out, it’s important to consider how the design will cater to the needs of your company as well as the needs of those that will be working within it. 

It can be difficult to know which style of office is right for you. So, we’ve put together the key advantages and disadvantages of open-plan office design vs partitioned office design to help you discover which will work best for you! 

Advantages of an Open-Plan Office:

Light and Airy 

??Open-plan offices are a perfect choice for those seeking to make the most of their natural lighting. Thanks to the lack of barriers or walls, offices tend to feel more bright and airy than those with partitions, which is why this style can work so well for small offices. 

But this is not just important for the aesthetics of the office, having a light office can have a positive impact on the performance and wellbeing of your workers.

Multi-Use Spaces

Flexibility is one of the key benefits of choosing an open office design. With no barriers to restrict you, spaces can be easily adapted to suit the demands of multiple situations. 

You effectively create a hybrid space that can be tailored to many needs. A space can be a break-out area at lunchtime and a meeting space later in the day when it’s not in use.


Due to the nature of a more open office space, it lends itself well to encourage more social interactions. It’s inevitable that workers will come into contact with each other more often and will be more inclined to build friendships and take part in conversations across departments. 

This is great for office morale and a sense of community within the company and helps bring people together who may not otherwise interact.


This style of office design is very popular at the moment and is likely to be favoured by the next generation of workers. While some people do prefer the more traditional design, it’s clear that this modern take on the office is here to stay. 

If you’re hoping to attract the next generation of workers, designing an office that appeals to them is key to standing out and attracting potential employees. 

Research suggests that Millennials and Generation Z’s do have a preference for modern office design and this does ultimately contribute to their desire to work for a particular company.


With no partitions to purchase or walls to upkeep, open design does tend to be the more affordable option. With it’s full flexibility, spaces can be changed with no limits or restrictions that may require any major manual work or serious re-design.  

Unless you’re planning to take down existing partitions to create more open space, if you value the cost-effective option, this may be the best choice for you. 


Disadvantages of an Open-Plan Office:


While a lack of partitions can be a positive, it can also double up as a potential issue if there are employees who struggle with background noise or distractions as they work. 

Due to the lack of materials to act as a buffer to other sounds, it can be harder to block out distractions such as other employees talking, phone calls and even music or people conducting meetings. 

There are ways to counteract this, but it is certainly something that many people have to acclimate to if they’re used to a quiet environment.

Lack of privacy 

As mentioned above, it can be an issue for some people that privacy is limited. If you’re having a sensitive conversation or a serious meeting it can be difficult to restrict other people from hearing it without a partition or closed door. In this case it may be worth considering adding a space that is partitioned-off within your office such as a booth.


Advantages of a Partitioned Office:


A huge advantage of having partitions in an office is that you automatically have more privacy. Sounds travels less with more barriers between workstations and a closed-off room gives the option to offer a meeting space that is closed off from the rest of the office which is a desirable office feature for most companies. This can save on the cost of hosting the meeting elsewhere and can offer a multi-use space itself.

Reduce distractions

Following on from the above benefit, having physical separations can help reduce distractions. Some people work better in different environments, so giving the opportunity to personalise their own private workspace away from the noise of a breakroom or ringing phone can help increase productivity and overall performance.

Fun options for partitions 

Partitions don’t have to be dull. At McFeggan Brown, we relish the opportunity to create features in your office that are as stunning as they are practical. You could use plants to act as barriers, or smart storage walls or even partitioning walls that can be moved into different positions. 


Another advantage of partitioning is that you can easily organise employees via department or seniority. This is great for larger companies that rely on frequent group work or have different needs from their office space. It’s a great way to have a clear layout that can otherwise get lost in a open-space.

Social distancing

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s understandable that some people may prefer partitioning to increase their control over how many people they come into contact with each day. Having a safe-space to keep to if necessary is a nice option for people to have if they do have concerns.

Disadvantages of a Partitioned Office:


One disadvantage is that enclosed spaces and walls can divide up the workplace mentally as well as physically. Barriers can create a  segmented feeling that discourages interaction and collaboration. Unlike with an open space, it is harder to cultivate a sense of ‘togetherness’. In this case, glass partitions are a great option to maintain the appearance of a more open design.

Reduces space elsewhere

In order to have adequate partitions you need enough space to do so in the first place. You may need to sacrifice space elsewhere just to ensure that the partitions don’t create cramped areas that no one actually wants to work in.


If your partitioning is made up of permanent structures it can be very hard to make changes to your design in the future. You are quite restricted to the purpose and design of each section of your office if the barriers are difficult to adjust or remove. 

In our opinion, it’s best to talk to your staff about their needs and design your office space with them in mind. There are plenty of options to choose from and aspects of both open plan and partitioned office designs can be merged and customised to suit you. 

Getting your layout right can be daunting, but at McFeggan Brown we have the expertise to ensure your office design is as good as it can possibly be. Whether you're relocating to new offices, or would like to refresh your current working space, we have the expert design knowledge you need! 

You can get in touch to book a consultation or take a look at our previous work

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