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How open-plan offices work against women

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Open office.
  • Rachel Morrison
By Rachel Morrison

Senior lecturer, Auckland University of Technology

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

A key reason many organizations want to move their employees to open-plan workspaces is to encourage collaboration and improve communication. The assumption is that the increased visibility and access workers have to one another will ease the flow of information and enhance learning, well-being, and collegiality.

Research suggests that, in some circumstances, this can indeed be the outcome. But another study recently found exactly the opposite, with workers engaging in 73% fewer face-to-face interactions, along with a 67% increase in electronic communication.

It is not just face-to-face communication that becomes worse in open-plan offices. There are findings that satisfaction decreases, well-being is impacted, privacy decreases, and people become less friendly.

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