Why Open Office Design Makes You Less Productive

The new building, MK21, designed by Canadian starchitect Frank Gehry, is the pinnacle of today’s open office design trend. For years, the open office design was touted as the new and improved workplace architecture. Speaking about Facebook’s previous office building, MK20, also a Gehry-designed open office, Facebook’s then Chief People Officer said,. Though the hype associated with open office spaces may make another day at the office seem a lot more appealing, the reality of these transparent offices - in terms of employee interaction and productivity - is a lot less clear. The study found that employees had substantially less face-to-face interactions after switching to open office spaces. Rather than increasing face-to-face collaborations, open architecture seemed to trigger a natural human response to socially withdraw from officemates and interact over email and instant messenger instead.”If you’re sitting in a sea of people you might not only work hard to avoid distraction but - because you have an audience at all times - also feel pressure to look really busy.”- Professor BernsteinBeyond interactions, the study found that workers became less productive in open offices. Though managers may prefer open office architecture, especially for the economic benefit, a growing body of research over the last years has been demonstrating the downside of open offices.


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