Open offices can lead to closed minds

“LONELINESS is a crowded room,” as Bryan Ferry of the band Roxy Music once warbled, adding that everyone was “all together, all alone”. The open-plan office might have been designed to make his point. That is not the rationale for the layout, of course. The supposed aim of open-plan offices is to ensure that workers will have more contact with their colleagues, and that the resulting collaboration will lead to greater productivity.

Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban, two Harvard Business School academics, set out to test this proposition*. The authors surveyed interactions between colleagues in two unnamed multinational companies which had switched to open-plan offices. They did so by recruiting workers to wear “sociometric” badges. These used infra-red sensors to detect when people were interacting, microphones to determine when they were speaking or listening to each other, another device to monitor their body movement and posture and a Bluetooth sensor to capture their location.

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via Business Feeds

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