Culture & Competency

Open Plan Offices Close the Brain

In his summary post on personal effectiveness in 2013, David Rock comments on how open plan offices close the brain:

Open plan offices are all the rage. In 2013, researchers confirmed something obvious to most people who work in one: it can be hard to get things done.

Finally, we have some real numbers behind this challenge. One study of 42,000 Americans found open plan offices reducedemployee wellbeing 32% and productivity 15%. Those in open offices cited a lack of “sound privacy” and lack of individual workspace as their major pain points. Those with private office were generally more satisfied at work. Another study found that open plan offices help increase levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and high staff turnover.

Every day another executive walks into a half-empty office and has the bright idea to go open plan. While there may be obvious savings from reducing a company’s real estate footprint, no one seems to be measuring the long-term financial costs of reduced wellbeing and productivity and assessing what the net effect may truly be.

See David’s post for the links to the studies he quotes.

Open plan offices are often touted as the gold standard for in-person collaboration. Not only are they not that, but they also decrease productivity.

David’s other observations on personal effectiveness in 2013 were:
– Working without enough sleep? You may as well be drunk.
– The more you multitask the worse you are at it.
– More technology may not be better (because technology takes over every available moment of life).
– Have the right drink at the right time of the day.

Categories: Culture & Competency

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