Originally, open office plans seemed like a good idea: They would facilitate collaboration and foster a more engaging, dynamic office environment. They would be less expensive and attract a more youthful, curious type of worker. However, that’s not how it’s working out. Open offices, it seems, are disasters. Last year, a survey by enterprise software strategist William Belk revealed that 58 percent of high-performing employees said they need private spaces to problem-solve, and a similar number said open offices are “too distracting.” A recent study from the University of Sydney had similar findings. They concluded that the benefits of the easy communication that open offices foster do not outweigh the drawbacks the lack of privacy creates. When privacy is removed, productivity suffers. Fortunately, many organizations are realizing this and moving toward a more activity-based workplace design. This focuses on a mix of open, semi-private, and completely private spaces and allows workers to decide which type of environment they would thrive in, rather than forcing everyone to work in the same way.
Open Offices Are Good in Theory, but Terrible in Practice