Open-plan work spaces are often seen as the fashionable way to encourage workplace creativity, but new research suggests they actually result in a more distracted and irritated workforce than individual desks or pods.
A survey of more than 300 office workers from Karlstad University’s Service Research Center found that the higher the number of co-workers sharing a workplace, the less satisfied they became. Workers in open-plan offices reported finding it increasingly difficult to have good dialogues with their colleagues, and their wellbeing was shown to decrease because of this.
“The results show a negative relationship between the number of co-workers sharing an office and employees’ job satisfaction,” says lead researcher Dr Tobias Otterbring.
“This association was mediated by ease of interaction with co-workers and subjective wellbeing, with employees working in small and medium-sized open-plan offices reporting lower levels of both aspects than employees who work either alone in cellular offices, or with up to two colleagues in shared offices.”
Although many open-plan spaces are introduced as a means of cost-saving and this can be financially effective in the short term, it is rarely enough to offset the costs associated with decreased job satisfaction among employees, the study adds.
“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,” Otterbring says.
Read more at bit.ly/PMofficespace.