Open-plan offices are in vogue. Walls are being torn down. Private places of retreat are being abolished. This should improve the culture of communication and make everything even better, faster and more innovative. This thinking is crap!
The truth is that open-plan offices do one thing above all: disturb and paralyse.
Open-plan offices are usually used when there is a problem. Suddenly it is realised that you are no longer innovative and creative enough to keep up with the market. Or an employee survey reveals that internal communication is not working. The reasons (or rather the excuses) for creating these employee enclosures are many and varied.
There are also other solutions
However, the solution is not the open-plan office but entrepreneurial action. Often it is not the walls that are responsible for a lack of internal communication – but the internal measurement of strength and power. Removing a wall will not lead to employees being kind to each other. They will continue to outdo each other – only together in one room.
But what is the solution? Create a corporate culture that avoids internal power struggles and promotes teamwork. Train and also sensitise your employees to how internal communication works in projects.
For creativity – free space, not open-plan offices!
Lack of creative and innovative thinking will not be improved by an open-plan office. Creativity and innovation arise when employees have freedom of movement, are not constantly irritated and the maximum profit motive is not constantly hoarded.
An open-plan office disturbs the peace and quiet of employees and causes additional stress for them. To regain the necessary peace and quiet, they put on headphones and isolate themselves from the outside world. They discuss things even less than before, as they do not want to disturb the others. The result is that the power struggles intensify even more. Real walls are simply replaced by invisible walls.
Therefore, dear entrepreneurs and salaried managers – stand up and say no to open-plan offices. Instead, work on the real causes of the problems, as entrepreneurs should!
And yes, this is certainly only one opinion.
So here are a few studies from the past few years, which will hopefully help to bury the myth of the open-plan office
- Should Health Service Managers Embrace Open Plan Work Enviroments?, 2008
- Office design’s impact on sick leave rates, 2014
- Swiss survey in offices, 2010