Doubts Rise Over Open Office Concept

August 30, 2019

The open office concept has grown in popularity over the years, employers believing it adds to a collaborative workspace that workers prefer. But recent studies cast some doubts on how inviting the open office really is on employees’ wellbeing and  productivity.

The National Real Estate Investor recently highlighted studies that show that open office spaces reduce face-to-face interactions, productivity, and work quality, prompt workers to have to wear noise-canceling earphones, cause higher levels of stress, and even increase sick days and employee turnover.

A CBRE report--“Top 6 Challenges and Solutions for a New Office Fit Out”--says that open office spaces can lead to higher ambient noise levels, higher vibration from the slab within the buildings’ steel frame structures (due to the absence of wall partitions), and heating and cooling issues on employees’ comfort due to the large open spaces.

“Anytime there’s only one type of office environment available, it can adversely affect workers,” Chris Coldoff, principal and workplace leader at architecture firm Gensler, told the National Real Estate Investor. Coldoff says the most productive environments offer workers a variety of choices about where they can work.

Open office spaces reduce square footage needed per employee compared with traditional office spaces. The amount of office space for each employee has dropped by an average of 8.3% between 2007 to 2017, averaging 193.8 square feet. Some office tenants and landlords are making up for that lost space by offering a variety of workplace options or shared amenities, such as fitness facilities and health spas.

The Open Office Concept Is Beginning to Show Its Limitations,” National Real Estate Investor (Aug. 28, 2019)