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Workers 'less satisfied in open plan offices'

Monday 16 September 2013

Open plan offices leave workers far less satisfied than private offices and do not boost teamwork or interaction among colleagues, a study has found. But the Australian study of tens of thousands of workers across hundreds of buildings around the world found that there was one gripe that workers in all office types share: the temperature. The study found that more than a fifth of workers were unhappy with the office temperature, irrespective of the type of office.
The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, found that most open-plan workers believe the lack of privacy and extra noise outweighs the benefits of increased interaction.
"Our results categorically contradict the industry-accepted wisdom that open-plan layout enhances communication between colleagues and improves occupants' overall work environmental satisfaction," it found.
The study, by the University of Sydney, was based on more than 40,000 worker surveys in 303 office buildings in the US, Finland, Australia and Canada.
"Distraction by noise and loss of privacy were identified as the major causes of workspace dissatisfaction in open-plan office layouts," the study said. "The open-plan office occupants' satisfaction level with 'ease of interaction' was no higher than that of private office occupants."
The study found that more than half of the workers in open-plan offices were dissatisfied with the lack of sound privacy. Workers in enclosed private offices were the most satisfied with their work space followed by those in shared offices, followed by those in open-plan offices (either partitioned cubicles or completely open-plan).
"In general, open-plan layouts showed considerably higher dissatisfaction rates than enclosed office layouts," the study said.
"Even though occupants are satisfied with interactions in open-plan layout, their overall workspace satisfaction will eventually decrease unless a certain level of privacy and acoustical quality are provided."

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