Chris Carmen  /   February 15, 2018

Has your office jumped on the open office layout bandwagon? If not, you are in the minority according to a Washington Post article. The International Facility Management Association states that 70% of U.S. offices are either completely open or have low partitions. While Silicon Valley led the way, the open office plan clearly strikes a chord with today’s corporate leaders. Part of the appeal for management is the ease with which they can watch employees work, ensuring that company time is used for company matters. Adherents also claim that worker productivity increases in open spaces with more opportunities for collaboration. But according to the Harvard Business Review, if a call center wants improved productivity, space should favor engagement—getting the team to interact more. Higher engagement is typically accomplished not with open social space but with tight, walled-off workstations and adjacent spaces for small-group collaboration and interaction.

A growing body of research suggests that the opposite of “open” may be the new ideal. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology reveals that an open office layout does not increase productivity and that the benefits were outweighed by the disadvantages, particularly the loss of privacy. Previous studies found that “the loss of productivity due to noise distraction… was doubled in open-plan offices compared to private offices” and that while open offices “often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.” With so much to lose in terms of worker productivity and morale, you might wonder how open office space could be improved. Some suggest creating more private spaces that are available to employees while others say that these spaces go so quickly that the main problem of employee privacy remains daunting. Still, another thought is to follow the trend of a remote workforce. Clearly, there is no “right” situation for every worker and environment. Employers need to study their options carefully and determine exactly what working environment concept is right for them. Whether you’re seeking open or traditional office options in the Indianapolis area, Carmen is ready to help. Get started below by sharing your criteria and we’ll send your free report of available office space.

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