Many believe that an open workspace could enhance collaboration, creativity, and overall efficiency. However, it may actually be doing the opposite.
A recent study was conducted to explore the impact of an open office space, predicting that by breaking down the barriers between employees, it would increase face-to-face interactions. Spoiler alert: It did not!
The open format resulted in the opposite: less face-to-face interactions. Employee face-to-face interactions dropped from 5.8 hours a day to 1.7 hours a day, despite being surrounded by their coworkers and easily accessible.
The study also found that the number of emails sent spiked by 56 percent, with participants being cc’d on 41 percent more emails. Instant messaging increased by 67 percent even though there were no longer boundaries hindering communication.
An open office environment decreased face-to-face interactions and increased electronic interactions, completely contradicting this new format’s purpose.
An open office is somewhat of a continuum that offers little to no privacy to individuals let alone different departments. Most often, departments are together in these larger rooms, and even if they are similar in duties and function, that doesn’t mean productivity will soar. Departments have different needs between their phone usage and open conversation; with an open office environment, you’re bound to have some conflicting opinions and work ethics colliding.
The physical barriers were brought down, but the personal barriers came up.
- – Speaking electronically instead of conversing in person
- – Drowning out the roar of a buzzing office with large headphones, effectively shielding you from your coworkers
- – Heightened stress and anxiety from the lack of privacy of an open configuration.
The most important takeaway from this study is that you must talk to your employees and see what would will work best for their needs and the functionality of your departments.