Open-plan offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email


Open-plan offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email

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2 thoughts on “Open-plan offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email”

  1. Journal reference:

    The impact of the ‘open’ workspace on human collaboration

    Ethan S. Bernstein, Stephen Turban

    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 2018 373 20170239;

    DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0239.

    Published 2 July 2018



    Organizations’ pursuit of increased workplace collaboration has led managers to transform traditional office spaces into ‘open’, transparency-enhancing architectures with fewer walls, doors and other spatial boundaries, yet there is scant direct empirical research on how human interaction patterns change as a result of these architectural changes. In two intervention-based field studies of corporate headquarters transitioning to more open office spaces, we empirically examined—using digital data from advanced wearable devices and from electronic communication servers—the effect of open office architectures on employees’ face-to-face, email and instant messaging (IM) interaction patterns. Contrary to common belief, the volume of face-to-face interaction decreased significantly (approx. 70%) in both cases, with an associated increase in electronic interaction. In short, rather than prompting increasingly vibrant face-to-face collaboration, open architecture appeared to trigger a natural human response to socially withdraw from officemates and interact instead over email and IM. This is the first study to empirically measure both face-to-face and electronic interaction before and after the adoption of open office architecture. The results inform our understanding of the impact on human behaviour of workspaces that trend towards fewer spatial boundaries.

  2. The question for any business, is how to make money, and not how to encourage employees to talk unless, of course, it makes money. The more they rely on email, the longer they stay at their desk and the easier it is to monitor everything they say. Ideally, a business should bug all their employees, give them cellphones or badges or something so they can monitor every word they say.

    Its nothing personal, its just business, and if you are not competitive you are not competitive. If you don’t have team spirit and people ready to fall on their swords for you, you may have to fall on your own sword.

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