Open plan offices kill productivity

Oh boy, yes.

Studies have over and over again linked physical privacy to psychological well-being — and while those in open offices may feel like they’re part of a cool, laid-back workspace, the fact is that open offices kill productivity and made people feel like they couldn’t control their surroundings. (They also were found to increase sickness in the office.)

Open plan offices may work for some teams but you need some rules about what is ok and what isn’t to make it a productive environment.

Source: Why agencies should rethink the open-office plan

Image credit: Open Plan by Gemma, licensed CC BY ND 2.0





2 responses to “Open plan offices kill productivity”

  1. Jacques Bornman  avatar,2013:687269448995090432_favorited_by_117684898

    Jacques Bornman 

  2. Nathan Jeffery avatar

    I think, depending on the industry, the right balance of open plan and private and/or remote can work really well.

    I think small teams in an office together, working towards the same goal can be very effective but I also think that teams should allow remote work as an option if the business type allows it. Generally any role that doesn’t require in person contact with the client(waiting tables, working in a bank, cutting hair, one on one consultations) should in theory allow for remote.

    Additionally in-office practices should be such that the business/team operates “remote first” using IM and text based modes of communication by default so that the office will be quiet and there’s less chance of interrupting other team mates sporadically. Collaboration and team work can be fostered by having scheduled lunch or coffee breaks where everyone gets together in the tea room or kitchen or even goes out for lunch together.

    This way collaboration and social engagement are semi structured and all work discussions are logged in digital channels so there is an audit trail and a searchable/referenceable record of discussions and decisions made. Should someone want to have an in person discussion with someone else then the meeting should be requested via IM first to check the other person is not busy and/or concentrating. The “tap on the shoulder” meeting should almost always be avoided.

    Another issue with open plan is personal differences. Some people hum to themselves, others have excessive body odour, some people like the air temperature cold and others like it warm. All of these quirks can have an impact on other team members ability to focus.

What do you think?

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