Today: 19.09.2018
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18.09.2018

Open-plan offices actually make people talk less: study.

Open-plan offices may break down walls… but they don’t break the ice. The hip architectural style — favored by the likes of Google and Facebook — makes use of large accessible spaces and does away with stuffy closed-door offices in an attempt to get workers to chat and collaborate. But a new study out of...
Time: 16:55     Date: 11.07.2018
US Living News: Open-plan offices actually make people talk less: study. NY Post 24 - US News

The hip architectural style — favored by the likes of Google and Facebook — makes use of large accessible spaces and does away with stuffy closed-door offices in an attempt to get workers to chat and collaborate.

But a new study out of Harvard University published this month found that the design actually makes employees less prone to working together and more likely to communicate via email or IM.

Researchers Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban looked at two Fortune 500 companies that were transitioning to modern offices, and found that the new layouts decreased the amount of face-to-face interaction by 70 percent and increased electronic communication.

The fishbowl-like offices “appear to have the perverse outcome of reducing, rather than increasing productive interaction,” they wrote.

Staffers in open-plan offices might feel exposed and vulnerable, the study found, so they make sure to look like they’re working by staring at screens and avoiding eye contact.

“People put on huge headphones to avoid distraction. They stare intently at their screens because they know people are watching and want to look busy,” Bernstein told The UK Times. “Then people looking at them from across the room see someone working intently and don’t want to interrupt. So they send an email instead.”

One of the companies the study looked at did away with walls — and employees were fitted with high-tech tracking devices for 15 days before and 15 days after.

When in the “walled” offices, each worker spent an average of 5.8 hours of in-person interaction per day while after the walls were removed, they spent only an average of 1.7 hours.

They also sent 56 percent more emails and 67 percent more instant messages — that were longer too.

The second company got rid of cubicles for its entire international headquarters.

Even though the workers were still sitting close to each other, in clumps of about six to eight desks, their in-person interaction decreased by 67 percent and they also sent more emails.

Bernstein used an example familiar to many New Yorkers to explain the findings.

“On the one hand, it is hard to believe that people would not have a more vibrant and interactive experience when they work in an open office,” he said.

“On the other hand, I’ve spent enough time on the (subway) at rush hour to see that being packed together doesn’t necessarily lead to interaction.”

Living

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Living

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Business

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Metro

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Sport

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