The open office trend — productivity boon or bust?

The startup and tech space is replete with open offices — areas where there is little to no privacy for employees. The open office floor plan, pioneered by tech giants like Google, and used by everyone from Facebook to LinkedIn, is almost seen as a must-have to foster ideals like “creativity”, “collaboration”, and “openness.”

While this all sounds great, there is a very real cost to open offices, and things may finally be swinging back in the other direction.

With more information coming out about interruption science (a field of study within psychology), distractions and interruptions are now measurably significant productivity inhibitors.

Coupled with a mutual feeling of distrust, since seemingly anyone can be looking over your shoulder at any time, many people are starting to voice their displeasure with open offices.

An essay in the Washington Post discussed this topic last month (“Google got it wrong. The open office trend is destroying the workplace.“)

I’ll be expanding on the topics of interruption science, productivity, and workplace design in the coming weeks. This topic comes and goes every few months, but with the growth of tech companies into some of the largest companies on the planet, it’s becoming a topic that requires a more concrete discussion sooner rather than later.