Recent-published Swedish research indicates that employees are less productive, more stressed and more frequently unwell when they work in open-plan offices. Has this been your experience, or do you prefer to work in an open-plan environment?

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Lynn Blakeman Profile
Lynn Blakeman answered

I honestly think there are arguments for and against working in an open plan office, in some ways I would prefer it, yet in other ways I see the problems that the study has revealed.

  • Employees are Less Productive - this is the case because they can chat with colleagues and mess around more than if they were alone in an office of their own.
  • Employees are more stressed - This is probably because people trying to work are distracted by those who aren't. Sometimes a radio might also be allowed, whereas some workers may not work well in a noisy environment.
  • Employees are more frequently unwell - They are around far more people with far more germs. So a cold that one person has is likely to get passed around several employees instead of being confined to the one person if he/she had his/her own office.

That said, it is sometimes good to work in an open plan environment. The working day does go quicker if you have someone to talk to and can have a few laughs.

Also, there is always someone nearby to request help from if there is a problem with a task being worked on.

The good thing about open offices from an employers point of view though is that he can watch everyone to make sure that they are working. It is far easier to skive in an office of your own :-)

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