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Journaled study measured a 70% reduction in face-to-face interaction after the introduction of an open office

Journaled study measured a 70% reduction in face-to-face interaction after the introduction of an open office
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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."

Source: rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org

In two separate field-based studies, the researchers documented a 70% reduction in face-to-face interaction after the introduction of an open office environment. Email communications increased by 25% to 50% during the same period. Co-located teams suffered the same decline as those that were not.  

 

Pulling from other research, the article stresses:

– the relative richness of face-to-face over email and texting

– the importance of intermittent, rather than constant social interaction on collaborative work and problem solving

 

It concludes that open offices have the perverse effect of reducing, rather than increasing productive communication.

 

This claims to be the first study to empirically measure both face-to-face and electronic interaction before and after the introduction of an open office environment.

 

The measurement tools included sociometric badges (equipped with microphones, infrared sensors, accelerometers, and bluetooth sensors). Digital communications were collected from company servers. All participants were volunteers (52 in one case and 100 in the other). HR data indicated no bias.

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