Are open offices working?

Are open offices working?

Studies reveal open offices are weakening productivity in the workplace.

If you are in an open office, many factors can be affecting your productivity.

We have come a long way since the only duty business leaders had was innovate to get ahead of the market, now, responding to customer needs and building resilient and creative brands are also part of the corporate agenda, so now, the place we work at has become yet another changing environment.

Workplaces started to change in the late 90´s when office walls fell and its transformation to a fun and open space became imminent, attracting energized and creative young talent, serving as a first step to generate engagement in workers, but, could it last forever?

Productivity at risk in open offices

Is an Open Office Space Ideal for Employee Productivity? Image credit: Linkedin

Even though open-office spaces grew over 3 million square feet from 2015 to 2016 in the U.S., the Wall-Street Journal says an open-plan office creates endless distractions that draw employees’ eyes far from their own screens, cutting work production in over 300 companies across the union.

In other data, BBC capital stated that during the past two years (2015, 2016), 70% of the US offices opened themselves up to the concept of open offices, nevertheless, 15% of those workplaces became less productive, demonstrating that they were having trouble concentrating and taking their mind off the visual noise, proximity and movement around the edges that surrounded them.

In the Fuze report “Future of Work”, where 900 IT leaders, over 6,000 workers and 3,300 teenagers from 15 to 18 years old were interviewed, it was found that 79% of the app generation (post-1999) prefers working at home, while only 47% of them can currently do so.

Why? 83% of that same universe believe an office is not a definitive need to be productive, thus, 84% of corporate leaders believe young people are a benefit to the workplace, so, as data collides, we wonder: How are open offices helping balance that percentage? Maybe they are not.

Howard Gardner and Katie Davis, two Harvard University professors state: “Today’s youth is the first generation to define itself by technology, rather than by pivotal political or economic events. Rather than wanting to explore and try things out by themselves, this ‘app generation’ is constantly pushing to find exactly what they want, when they want it.

They want to know how “it” will be evaluated, what comes next, and where this leads them. It seems a proliferation of choice has led to a tendency for today’s younger generation to stick with the best and safest option”.

Stress, conflict and higher costs

The Queensland University of Technology Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation proved that working in environments without walls or privacy can cause high blood pressure, stress and conflict, converting the workplace into a space with lack of trust and a less cost-effective plan.

Open offices can also represent a rise to a 172,000 dollar non-inconsiderable spending, a considerable amount for medium and large companies.

Employee engagement positively correlates with workplace satisfaction, being satisfied with various aspects of the workplace demonstrates higher levels of engagement, so it is clear that the workplace transformation is inevitable, but, it must well done to guarantee living up to the challenge to end the conventional idea of work or offices.

Is that the direction coworking is taking?

With information from INC, Forbes and The Guardian.


About the Author:

Fernando Lincona
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