The benefits of an open-plan office layout have been touted for many years, with the vast majority of research released seeming to endorse this style of working. However there has recently been something of a shift, with new research now suggesting that rather than being a fool-proof approach, open-plan offices are in fact full of potential pitfalls and may have negative consequences for the workforce.

A new study from Karlstad University is the latest to provide an argument against the merits of open-plan. According to the research the more co-workers that share a workplace, the less satisfied employees will be, with collaboration and productivity suffering as a result.

In gathering the data required for the new study, which was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, researchers investigated any and all associations between office type (cellular office, shared-room office, small open-plan office, and medium-sized open-plan office) and employees’ job satisfaction, wellbeing, and ease of interaction with co-workers. The results suggest there is in fact a negative correlation between the number of co-workers sharing an office and their job satisfaction.

This association was measured according to the ease of interaction with co-workers and a subjective assessment of wellbeing. Employees working in small and medium-sized open-plan offices reported lower levels of both these aspects than employees who work either alone in cellular offices or together with up to two colleagues in shared offices.

The researchers conclude that open-plan offices may have short-term financial benefits, but these benefits may be substantially lower than the costs associated with decreased job satisfaction and wellbeing. Therefore, decision-makers should consider the impact of a given office type on employees rather than focusing solely on cost-effective office layout, flexibility, and productivity.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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