open office layout

The theory is ubiquitous, we’ve all heard it - open offices are the future of workplace design. Not only do open layouts look great and create a sense of team, they also attract and retain the best talent, foster collaboration, spur innovation, boost morale, increase productivity, and save money, wow! Mr. Employer, tear down that wall!

But let’s look at the facts as suggested by over two decades of research from around the globe. The results may surprise you.

Study after study indicate that employees are often more dissatisfied, more stressed and less productive in an open environment. As Clara Lu points out in her blog post in tradegecko, “. . . a growing volume of research and studies are showing that despite its popularity, it might be undermining the very things it was designed to achieve.”

Employees in open offices often complain of distractions from noise, uncontrolled interruptions, and a lack of visual privacy, resulting in increased stress and decreased motivation.

Maria Konnikova in her New Yorker article “The Open Office Trap” cites dozens of studies that indicate an open environment’s negative impact on employee satisfaction, concentration, creativity and job performance.

“As a result, some U.S. companies are diversifying their workspaces to include secluded areas where employees can work undisturbed,” notes Hunter Stuart in Huffpost Business. “There are no statistics yet on how many U.S. companies are adding private workspaces to their offices, but it’s a growing trend. According to Sonya Dufner, director of workplace strategy at the design firm Gensler, ‘Every new space we’re designing has these kinds of areas,’ she said.”

As many companies add quiet spaces, libraries, and even private work pods, furniture design has become increasingly important in creating that productive balance.

So what is the solution? What creates the best office environment? Simply put, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the optimal office environment. Your company is best served by an office design that incorporates your business needs, functions, and unique culture.

As your tenant representative we work with you to navigate the process. We help you select the right architect/designer, as well as the experts for your furniture, data and project management. We not only help you select the right building and secure the best economic terms, we lead a coordinated team to ensure the complete success of your office environment.

For more on creative approaches to office design, you may enjoy the following article from the Harvard Business Review: “7 Factors of Great Office Design”.