Alone together: Study says open-plan offices might make us anti-social

Office design might lead to less in-person interaction

New York /
Jul.July 17, 2018 09:30 AM

A silhouette of someone staring at their computer screen (Credit: Pexels and iStock)

The fact that you can see all of your co-workers doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to talk to any of them.

According to a new study by Harvard University, open-plan offices might actually deter employees from working together. Instead, workers are more likely to communicate by instant messaging and email, the New York Post reported.

But there’s a caveat: The study only looked at two Fortune 500 companies. At one company, after doing away with cubicles, employees spent an average of 1.7 hours on in-person interactions. That’s down from the average 5.8 hours they spent when walled off from each other, according to the report.

At the second company, in-person interactions decreased by 67 percent. According to one of the study’s researchers, Ethan Bernstein, people working in open-plan offices might feel more self-conscious. Feeling that they need to constantly look busy, they avoid eye contact and stare at their computer screens.

“On the one hand, it is hard to believe that people would not have a more vibrant and interactive experience when they work in an open office,” researcher Ethan Bernstein said. “On the other hand, I’ve spent enough time on the (subway) at rush hour to see that being packed together doesn’t necessarily lead to interaction.” [NYP] — Kathryn Brenzel


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon on the evolution of the residential data game — and how to stay competitive in the new world
Eric Gordon on the evolution of the residential data game — and how to stay competitive in the new world
Big Tech locations in NYC
MAP: Here’s a look at all the Big Tech locations in NYC
MAP: Here’s a look at all the Big Tech locations in NYC
What will proptech look like in 2019 and beyond?
What will proptech look like in 2019 and beyond?
What will proptech look like in 2019 and beyond?
Freshly CEO Michael Wystrach and 28 East 28th Street (Photos via Twitter; Google Maps)
Freshly inks big lease in NoMad
Freshly inks big lease in NoMad
The Real Deal's E.B. Solomont
Compass investors in line for payday, $100M for a flex-living startup
Compass investors in line for payday, $100M for a flex-living startup
The Real Deal's E.B. Solomont
Who made bank in Opendoor’s IPO? $100M for a visitor logbook firm Inbox
Who made bank in Opendoor’s IPO? $100M for a visitor logbook firm Inbox
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Getty; iStock)
Amazon to put $2B into affordable housing
Amazon to put $2B into affordable housing
From left:  Joseph Chetrit, 404 Fifth Avenue and WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani (Photos via Wikipedia Commons; Google Maps)
WeWork battles Chetrit Group over Midtown lease
WeWork battles Chetrit Group over Midtown lease
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...