Is your open office causing a creative crisis?

April 2, 2015 Laura McDaniel

How applicable is the open office to every company? Studies are finding that it is not very. Hubspot took another look at the positives and negatives associated with an open plan.


Whenever Ben walks by, he comments on the design work prominently display on your monitor. He typically thinks you need to move everything to be center-aligned. Jane -- the one with the constant cough -- believes that the secret to convincing a client that an idea is brilliant is to speak above a normal decibel level. And Susan's mom packs her lunch, which usually includes some form of meat that smells like a hot dog wrapped in ham.  

Sharing an open office can be "revealing" for employees in many ways, but the main goal of these no-wall floor plans is to increase creativity and collaboration. This is why so many agencies are renovating and revising their offices to create more open spaces. 

Havas Chicago recently spent $10 million dollars to renovate its office, an 81,000-square-foot space that houses 450 employees. In creating its new digs, the company got rid of all offices and included more communal work spaces. The agency now occupies two floors instead of three.

barbarian-groupBarbarian Group's 1,100-foot-long desk.

The Barbarian Group also redesigned its New York office last year. It decided to get rid of all desks, save one: a 4,400-square-foot table with a price tag of $300,000. All 125 employees sit along the undulating, snaking desk that provides five feet of space per person. This "super desk" was inspired by Mother London’s 250-foot concrete desk.

Another agency recently revealed its new office design, writing in a blog post that, “The complete interior renovation features sleek, modern designs in an open workspace environment to enhance creativity, inspiration, and collaboration.”

The idea seems to be that openness, shared desks, glass wall meeting rooms, and few -- if any -- truly private spaces increases collaboration and creativity. But what if that assumption is completely false? What if your open office plans are actually a detriment to the creativity of your staff?

2011 study found that employees who moved to an open office space perceived that communication had improved, but they reported that they felt less productive and creative in their new setup, citing noise and visual distractions as two of the causes.

Read the entire article here

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