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The Future of the Open Plan Office

The Future of the Open Plan Office

UPDATE: With COVID-19 has come a lot of changes to the way that office work. With people working from home and social distancing as a must, the need for more space between employees has become apparent. Learn how an open plan office can not only improve productivity but keep your employees safe.

The Future of the Open Plan Office

The open plan office has always been a topic of debate when it comes to employee’s productivity, wellbeing and collaboration. With employees now slowly returning back to the office, ensuring that the open plan is not only a safe place to work but that it also facilitates collaboration and productivity is a priority for employers.

From ensuring that your open plan office has the right balance of natural and artificial lighting, through to providing acoustical comfort, there are a number of ways you can ensure that your open plan office is ready for your employees to return to work.

Indoor Air Quality Monitoring

The health and productivity benefits of good indoor air quality are well established. With the return to the office, ensuring that the air quality is of a good level is crucial to not only reassuring employees but also monitoring the healthy levels of the air quality.

On average, we spend 90% of our time indoors and in close proximity to each other. When cold outdoor air with little moisture is heated indoors, the air’s relative humidity drops to about 20%. This dry air provides a clear pathway for airborne viruses, such as Covid-19. Monitoring your indoor air quality and ensuring that humidity is kept between 40 – 60% is important to ensuring that you have healthy indoor air quality.

Sound Masking

The noise in an open plan office and lack of privacy can stunt collaboration and disrupt employee focus. In fact, many employees find open-plan offices so noisy and distracting that they seek quiet spaces outside of the shared environment to problem solve or share ideas.

With many offices introducing flexible working and staggering out work schedules to abide by the social distancing guidelines, the acoustic levels of the office can vary. Sound masking helps by introducing a consistent level of background sound to reduce noise distractions, increase speech privacy and increase employee comfort.

No matter the extent to which office architecture might evolve because of COVID-19, the potential for noise distractions, lack of speech privacy, and insufficient employee comfort will remain. When employees endure more-frequent distractions, lack speech privacy, and feel less comfortable, overall business productivity suffers.

And the problems aren’t going away, which is why sound masking remains an easily installed, cost-effective and necessary solution.

Plus, with so many relatively empty offices because of the work-from-home mandates that are so common in today’s environment, now is the perfect time to consider installing a sound masking system in your office.


Biophilia goes hand in hand with good indoor air quality and sound masking. Plants can have a massive impact on the relative humidity in a building and help get rid of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).

Biophilia in the workplace can aid in reducing stress, improving cognitive function, and enhancing mood and creativity. These and other outcomes can increase health and wellbeing, as well as productivity.

Biophilia isn’t just about including plants in your office, from living walls through to pot plant arrangements and locally sourced timber floorboards, there are endless ways that you can integrate biophilia into your new office design. Biophilic soundscapes helps to combat stress and boost wellbeing and levels of motivation. Biophilic nature sound is a verified alternative to traditional sound masking


Lighting can have a direct impact on a person’s wellbeing, productivity and stress levels.  Natural lighting is one of the best forms of lighting for productivity and wellbeing but when there is a lack of natural light article lighting can be a great alternative.

Artificial light that adjusts for intensity and colour spectrum, mimicking solar light and darkness levels at different times of the day and night, is proven to support a healthy circadian rhythm. Recent research by the World Green Building Council has linked improved lighting design with up to a 23% gain in productivity.

Human-centric approaches to lighting in the workplace need to be at the top of the business agenda. This means creating a perfect balance between natural and artificial light in order to adjust to our daily rhythms. The right light - in the right place - brings about the most positive of outcomes. It can energise mood, inspire creativity and enhance performance; it can improve health and cognition and contribute to reduced stress; it can even boost productivity.

What next?

In our opinion, the open plan office is here to stay and it’s about making it a productive and collaborative workspace with the use of collaborative technologies. Remark Group have years of experience in helping transform open plan offices into productive and comfortable places to work, take a look at our open plan office solutions or get in touch today.

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