Updates on URBANOLOGY

The Open Floorplan Backlash Has Begun!

There’s a lot of hype around open floorplan offices. You know, downsized workspaces without private offices, where everyone works in a communal space. Perhaps the concept has become so hot and trendy because it’s associated mostly with tech and creative firms. (Creative space is the darling du jour of the commercial real estate community, don’t you know). Or perhaps it’s part of an elaborate conspiracy on the part of tenants to reduce their rent.

fast co floorplans.jpg

If so, it’s a counter-productive conspiracy. At least judging by the growing backlash. Fast Company yesterday posted this diatribe from one its writers. And the Wall Street Journal recently cited several studies showing that open floorplans harm productivity and cause costly interruption errors.

As Fast Company writer Jason Feifer says, “This is the problem with open-office layouts: It assumes that everyone’s time belongs to everyone else. It doesn’t. We are here to work together, sure, but most of the time, we actually work alone. That’s what work is: It is a vacillation between collaboration and solitary exploration.”

Or as associate of mine who recently toured a new, highly touted creative space observed: “All the private offices that anyone can use were occupied. Also, I noticed lots of employees sat themselves down in work stations away from others to concentrate.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll close my office door….