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Open Offices Not Popular With Workers

Open Offices Not Popular With Workers
Activity-based office spaces have become popular. But, employees don't like the lack of privacy. / Credit: Open office image via Shutterstock

Most employees are hoping the open office environment of the future quickly becomes a thing of the past, new research shows.

A study by researchers at the University of Sydney has found that many employees feel activity-based working environments, which feature open-office plans designed to foster teamwork, are disruptive to their productivity.

Jungsoo Kim, one of the study's authors, said open-office layouts, which have been a growing trend in recent years, have been touted as a way to boost workplace satisfaction and team effectiveness.

"We found people in open-plan offices were less satisfied with their workplace environment than those in private offices," Kim said. "The benefits of being close to co-workers in open-plan offices were offset by factors such as increased noise and less privacy."

The research was based on surveys of more than 42,000 office workers in the United States, Finland, Canada and Australia. In addition, researchers analyzed a University of California database that measures indoor environment quality in office buildings, factoring in things such as indoor air quality, temperature, lighting, noise, privacy and the amount of space an individual perceives they have.

Researchers said that the data further validated earlier findings that uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy are the main sources of workplace dissatisfaction in open-plan offices.

Kim said open-plan offices dominate modern workplaces, yet there is little solid evidence they improve interaction between co-workers.

"It clearly indicates the disadvantages of open-plan offices clearly outweigh the benefits," Kim said of the research.

The study, co-authored by professor Richard de Dear, was recently published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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