Workplace Issues

Should You Deep-Six the Open Floor Plan?

Research suggests that open office designs tend to drain productivity.
David McCannJanuary 15, 2014

Open PlanChances are that your company has an open floor plan for its office space. Around 70 percent of offices do, according to recent research. Problem is, research is piling up indicating that, because of greater distractions, open floor plans are productivity killers. They were meant to foster collaboration and innovation, but as it turns out, that was merely a theory — an untested one, which spread like wildfire anyway, an online New Yorker article notes.

Of course, the other reason companies have turned to open floor plans involves cost: office space is expensive, companies generally pay per square foot, and many more workers can be fit into an open plan than into individual offices.

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For that reason, it seems unlikely that many of the companies that switched to open work environments will reverse course. Still, perhaps the idea is worth a bit of thought. What drives more value at your company: saving on office-space costs or maximizing innovation?

At least consider adding some individual offices. In that event, the trick will be to identify who would most benefit from solitude. A product-development engineer might be more productive in an individual office — but an accounts-payable clerk might, as well. Good luck.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


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