Only one group of people loves the open office: employers who pay rent for a workspace. The open office does not do much for collaboration or breaking down hierarchies, as promised, but it is far cheaper than providing privacy for workers. There are so many more reasons to dislike the all-pervasive workplace trend. Even if you can't change your bosses' minds about the setup, you can know exactly why it's making you so unhappy.
A new study reported by the Washington Post lays out a whole new crop of statistics about how and why open offices end up being so antisocial. According to data collected by wearable devices, employees who switched en masse into an open office layout suddenly demonstrated a nearly three-quarters drop in face-to-face interactions. The number of emails between colleagues increased by two-thirds, while the number of instant messages went up by 75 percent.
Study co-author and Harvard Business School professor Ethan Bernstein told the Post that there's a "natural human desire for privacy, and when we don't have privacy, we find ways of achieving it. What [the open office] was doing was creating not a more face-to-face environment, but a more digital environment."
We've already seen through other research that open office layouts change our behavior, including exposing women to more risk of sexual harassment. We work hard to create fixes for the overstimulation of no-boundary workplaces, and we take remote work days to recover and actually get things done. Almost 1 in 5 workers would love to do away with open offices altogether. If you're listening, management, it might pay to reconsider those cost-saving measures.