The ‘open plan’ office has been integrated into workplaces across the globe since the 90’s and is now commonplace in the majority of business’ both big and small.
But is having co-workers sharing bright, airy open-plan spaces without being hidden behind walls or cubicles actually productive for business?
When it was first introduced the open office concept was revolutionary, with claims of an improved work experience.
Managers imagined open offices would increase interactions between colleagues, and improve cooperation and productivity.
However, Harvard Business School Associate Professor Ethan Bernstein has published a study on the impacts of open workspaces on collaboration.
The study found that employees actually had LESS face-to-face interactions after switching to open office spaces.
Instead, open architecture seemed to trigger a natural human response to socially withdraw from officemates and interact over email and instant messenger instead.
Professor Bernstein revealed:
“If you’re sitting in a sea of people, for instance, you might not only work hard to avoid distraction (by, for example, putting on big headphones) but — because you have an audience at all times — also feel pressure to look really busy.”
Beyond interactions, the study found that workers became less productive in open offices.
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