Open-plan offices, a space-saving office design that favors big spaces and desks over private offices, is actually not all that popular. And it could be hurting the bottom line.
If your employees are packed together and share close quarters, there’s a very good chance they’re not having a good time. According to the International Management Facility Association, 70% of American employees work in open-plan offices. And a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health found open office setups had 62% more sick days on average than work spaces with private offices.
But it isn’t just sick days. Employees are also complaining about the noise and the loss of productivity. A recent study questioned 259 office workers and found that sound was one of the elements that mattered the most when it came to office setting. The most irritating noises were conversations, ringing phones and machines — probably the most common noises in a busy office.
Another recent study says that employees actually work less in an open-plan office environment and report stress and dissatisfaction. When the researchers returned six months later to follow up with the workers, they found that team relations had actually gotten worse.
Loss of productivity and low morale
It’s clear that not everyone in a workplace can have their own personal office (though that would be nice right?). But more evidence shows that there’s a good chance an open-plan office space is contributing to lower productivity and worse yet, more absenteeism.
But it’s a tough balance to strike. This doesn’t automatically mean that you should section everyone off into their own cubicles, which could be even more harmful.
It may be a good idea to survey your staff and see how they feel about their current office design. If it’s plausible, consider changing up certain elements in order to keep things fresh with employees and, hopefully, boost productivity.
Sometimes what seems like a simple change can actually be a great catalyst for better morale.
Are there any quirks or issues with your office layout? Let us know in the comments below.