Open concept office may lower productivity, extend work day

Open concept workplaces may not be the bustling hubs of creativity and colleague collaboration that many employers who designed their offices with few private spaces wanted them to be, a new study suggests.

Is open concept a bad concept?

9 years ago
Duration 3:25
A new study suggests open concept workplaces can make for unproductive and unhappy employees.

Open concept workplaces may not be the bustling hubs of creativity and colleague collaboration that many employers wanted them to be, a new study suggests.

Instead, a wall-less office may make employees unproductive and unhappy.

Many companies have switched to the open-concept office, including Vancouver ad agency, Rethink. At its Vancouver offices, employees can hold business meetings around a ping pong table or brainstorm in a space filled with Lego. But, none of those employees — boss included — will have their own private office.

"There’s a lot of cross-pollination that goes on," said Ian Grais, a founding partner of the company. "I think it helps people just understand what’s going on in the office and maybe tweak off an idea that they overhear from another workplace."

A Rethink employee agreed with Grais that it creates a more fun, community-oriented workspace.

However, Australian researchers who examined the preferences of 40,000 workers across the world found that philosophy may not be accurate.

They discovered that private offices "out performed open-concept layouts" when it came to acoustics, privacy and all-around satisfaction.

However, employees most likely won't be seeing walls in their workplaces anytime soon because of a long-held belief by designers that workers in a social setting may be willing to stick around and work longer hours.


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