This is a topic that I will probably return to every now and then; first of all because every few years new research find that open-plan offices are even worse than we knew before, but secondly because I once fought against such plans and lost. Despite the fact that everyone but upper management knew it was a bad idea.
I understand that open-plan offices may be cost-saving, but only if you look at the cost of office plans separately. The other costs are unfortunately huge.
And I think that some believe that open-plan offices lead to more collaboration. They don’t.
- Open-plan offices are more disruptive due to uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy
- Penalties from disruption outweigh any measurable benefit
- Noise and loss of privacy cause workplace dissatisfaction
- Face-to-face communication drop significantly (one experiment showed more than 70%), being replaced by email and messaging
All-in-all, while open-plan offices may save on the cost of the physical environment in a company, the cost from loss of productivity and higher rate of mistakes far outweigh the savings. The supposed greater interaction between employees doesn’t happen either.
I don’t think the new office plans were the cause for the bankruptcy that followed, but it certainly didn’t help either.