Does the government have an official policy regarding the implementation of open-plan offices? Public sector employees experience

Ásta Dís Óladóttir, Fjóla Kim Björnsdóttir


This article discusses the implementation of open-plan offices among public sector employees. The so called open-plan offices are debated, although it seems to be a popular way of designing office spaces. An open-plan office refers to two or more office desks for individuals which are layed out in one open space. The main objective of this article is to review how public sector employees experienced the transition to open-plan offices and how the implementation proceeded. This article will also review whether the government has a formal policy regarding the extensive change to place employees in open-plan offices. Few domestic studies have been conducted on employees’ experience of moving into open plan offices and this is the first study of public sector employees’ attitudes towards such changes. In this study two public organizations and two ministries which all had recently implemented open-plan offices were selected. A survey was sent to 182 employees at these organizations and ministries. 90 employees participated, answering questions about how the implement of change was delivered, leaving the response rate at almost 50%. Government officials were interviewed to find out whether a policy was formulated for the implementation of open-plan workspaces. The main conclusion is that half of the participants like being in an open-plan office, but the majority prefers to be in a closed office. Despite that, most participants feel there is less privacy to do their work, noise has increased, and concentration has diminished. One third of participants feels that productivity has reduced. Furthermore, no policy has been formulated by the government regarding the implement of open-plan workspaces.


Open plan offices; interaction; collaboration; strategy; government.

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