Employees who work in open-plan offices feel worse and are more dissatisfied with their work

It is becoming increasingly common for employees to share the workplace with their colleagues in large open-plan office areas. In this way, companies and organizations want to save money, but also facilitate the interaction between the employees. However, a new study from CTF, Service Research Center at Karlstad University, Sweden, shows the opposite. The more co-workers that share the workplace, the less satisfied the employees are, and the more difficult they think it is to have a good dialogue with their colleagues.

Numerous private and public organizations have already adopted the concept of open-plan offices and many other companies are currently considering a switch from traditional cellular offices to such open layouts. Common arguments for investing in such open spaces are their claimed cost efficiency and flexible layout; their assumed ability to facilitate interaction among employees; and, ultimately, their presumed potential to improve work performance and productivity.

In a new study researchers have investigated the associations between type (cellular office, shared-room office, small open-plan office, and medium-sized open-plan office) and employees' , well-being, and ease of interaction with co-workers.

"The results show a negative relationship between the number of co-workers sharing an office and employees' job satisfaction. This association was mediated by ease of interaction with co-workers and subjective wellbeing, with employees working in small and medium-sized open-plan offices reporting lower levels of both these aspects than employees who work either alone in cellular offices or together with up to two colleagues in shared-room offices", says Ph D Tobias Otterbring and continues:

"The open-plan offices may have short-term financial benefits, but these benefits may be substantially lower than the costs associated with decreased job satisfaction and wellbeing. Therefore, decision-makers should consider the impact of a given office type on employees rather than focusing solely on cost-effective office layout, flexibility, and productivity."

They study was recently published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. The article is titled "The relationship between office type and job : Testing a multiple mediation model though ease of interaction and well-being."


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Warning: Your open-plan office can make you ill

More information: "The relationship between office type and job satisfaction: Testing a multiple mediation model though ease of interaction and well-being" Otterbring T, Pareigis J, Wästlund E, Makrygiannis A, Lindström A. Published in Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health.
Provided by Karlstad University
Citation: Employees who work in open-plan offices feel worse and are more dissatisfied with their work (2018, January 18) retrieved 16 June 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-01-employees-open-plan-offices-worse-dissatisfied.html
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Jan 20, 2018
Perhaps removing physical barriers between office workers does nothing to improve their collaboration. Maybe creating scenarios that encourage collaboration, maybe having 2 or 3 people working on the same cognitive task like cowriting a document or mob programming on code, would be a more effective. Humans have evolved to collaborate and many of humanities great achievements are collaborative efforts where the collaborators end up happy (even if they had failures) and life long friends.

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