Category: Office Design
Open plan office design is still incredibly popular; according to an estimate from the research group Emerald Insight, some 70% of offices conform to an open plan style. Advocates point out the numerous advantages, but there are some key problems with open offices that make them much less beneficial than they seem.
The Open Office Theory
The idea of the open office came about in the 1950s, but didn't really take off until the 1990s, when it became the next big thing in office branding and design. The new design philosophy was about stimulating creativity, improving
The Reality of the Open Office
Since then, dozens of studies have been undertaken on the subject, and there seems to be a fairly clear consensus: that the supposed benefits are more symbolic than anything else. One extensive review of more than one hundred studies found that while the open plan office gives employees a sense of belonging to a relaxed and innovative
There are several factors that are thought to be contributing to the negative effects of the open plan office:
- Privacy increases job performance, but removing physical barriers like walls and doors reduces privacy. Even old-style cubicles may be more effective in this regard.
- The more employees there are working in a single space, the more sick leave employees take. The difference is apparent even in two-person offices, with a 50% increase in the number of sick days over workers in private offices.
- The worst offender seems to be noise, which is linked to reduced cognitive performance, impaired memory, and even impairment in basic math skills. Employees subjected to open-office levels of noise have higher levels of stress hormones, are less creative, and are less motivated.
Interestingly, people who multi-task
Posted 15th November, 2016< Back to articles