Open-plan office designs unpopular with workers and can damage productivity

“Employees reported that the open-plan design of many offices encouraged a negative sense of competition between staff and a hostile working environment that pitted colleagues against each other,” said a statement from Expert Market. “In different cultures, they may seek it primarily for different reasons and in ways that are permitted in their culture, but the need for privacy sometimes — at work as well as in public — is as important to people as is the need to be with others.”

Related story: “Offices designed as fun palaces are fundamentally sinister”Research released earlier this year by Canada Life Group Insurance also found that open-plan office workers were more than twice as likely to take sick days than home workers and were almost six times as likely to believe their working environment promoted stress. News: more than half of employees prefer a private work space, while open-plan office workers often experience too many distractions to work effectively, according to new data. The 11 per cent of workers who had more privacy and were more satisfied with their workplace overall were also the most engaged. Last year, Dezeen reported on a workplace survey by architecture firm Gensler, which found that new office technologies and a move towards collaborative, open-plan offices were damaging the performance of employees. “We expected that in countries like China, which has a very collectivist culture, privacy might be less of a need than in countries like the United States, where individualism is prized. Respondents were losing up to 86 minutes per day to distractions, and 31 per cent reported they had to leave their offices to complete their work due to lack of private space. But what we discovered is that people all over the world want privacy at times,” said Wenli Wang, who conducted Steelcase’s privacy research in China. Research commissioned by British office equipment company Expert Market found that 54 per cent of workers would prefer to work in separate offices, while 65 per cent said that lack of natural light negatively impacted their mood. Disengagement in the workplace and subsequent loss of productivity is currently estimated to cost American companies up to $550 billion and UK companies up to £70 billion a year. “In the quest to boost team morale through a relaxed and less formal environment, companies may have achieved quite the opposite.”
The report follows on from research published in September by office furniture specialists Steelcase and research company IPSOS, which found that insufficient privacy in the workplace was a worldwide problem. “Open-plan is quite effective as a general space but there are times when you need to focus on collaboration, and it fails to support that.”

Updated: 23.11.2014 — 01:18