What is an open-plan office?

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Overview of open-plan offices

Open-plan offices are offices comprised of open desk spaces – large areas where employees work. Rather than have private offices, open-plan offices are open, with multiple employees in the same room. Barriers are minimal – you can see and interact with other individuals across the room.

Different types of open plan offices

Dedicated desks

One approach to an open plan office is to keep the setup relatively similar to private offices – employees have dedicated desks that are their own. There are no walls between employees, but everyone has a set location.


Another approach common in open-plan offices is hot-desking, where employees don’t have a permanent location. There may be large desks shared by employees. While there are many disadvantages associated with hot-desking, this may allow greater flexibility – employees can sit next to who they are currently working with.

Dividers between desks

Another consideration with open-plan offices is whether to have some dividers between desks. One approach is to have the office completely open – no dividers. Another is to give some privacy to employees with slight dividers, potentially a foot or two high to separate the desks.