Open-plan offices have become very popular in recent years and they seem to be the go-to option for most tech companies, especially in Silicon Valley. Some companies, like Facebook and Netflix, even tout that not even their CEO has an office. The open office plan was supposed to be less expensive for organizations and conducive to lighter, more open and collaborative companies. Organizations felt that if they removed walls, they would increase visibility and communication among employees and teams. Small startups, large corporations, and co-working spaces all jumped on the bandwagon.
Increasingly though, more and more research is proving that open-plan offices are problematic. Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban, at Harvard Business School and Harvard University, studied open office plans and found that employees spent:
- 73% less time in face-to face interactions
- 67% more time on email
- 75% more time on instant messenger
Not only did open-plan offices decrease social interactions, it also decreased productivity. Employees are finding it difficult to have conversations with colleagues out in the open in front of everyone. Plus, employees are increasingly distracted and having a harder time focusing on the work at hand. The visual and noise distractions have been shown to severely slow a worker’s processing of even simple tasks. These distractions are so present that companies like Panasonic are marketing new product solutions.
Wear Space is akin to horse blinders for humans and it helps limit your peripheral vision. Noise cancelling headphones are also included in the apparatus. This is intended to be one solution to help an employee regain a bit of the privacy and focus that is lacking from an open floor plan.
Would you wear these at work to help you focus? What other tricks do you enact to help you maintain productivity in your office/lab? Leave a comment below.