Do Open Office Spaces Actually Limit Face-to-Face Communication?

The consensus on open office spaces is in: According to this Harvard study on how workspaces affect collaboration, open offices decrease face-to-face interactions by a whopping 70%.

Considering that the point of open offices is to remove barriers and foster collaborative environments, these findings are somewhat surprising. But whether these findings are “good” or “bad” really depends on your definition of an “open” workspace.

Perhaps it’s Time to Redefine “Open”

With so much collaboration technology at our fingertips, it may be time to redefine the “open” environment as one that simply empowers employees to do their best work.

Who’s to say that employees will openly collaborate more in an office than, say, at home? There’s a myth that if we see each other working, we must be working, right? We all know that may not be the case. In the office, we’re talking about our weekends, our partners, the football game. In truth, how much of your time in the office is really spent working?

In a way – shame on us for clogging up our freeways so we can be in a physical office together, where distractions abound. It may be high time to become more “open” to alternative workspace options.

Creating Alternative Open Workspaces

According to Fundera, the remote workforce has increased by 115% since 2005. This number is partly rising because technology has enabled it to do so, but it’s also going up because many people flat out thrive in remote work environments.

Reasons to go Remote

  • Remote workforces save companies money in overhead costs like rent, office snacks, etc.
  • With newfound capital, companies can discover innovative ways to encourage open Perhaps you take that $5k you would have spent on rent and give it to your remote employees to build an in-home office. Or maybe you take your team out to nice dinner once a month and allow the opportunity for folks to unwind and talk — about themselves and not work. Imagine that?
  • Maybe you can encourage a real

Building Trust in Alternative Spaces

Ultimately, building a loyal team comes down to trust. Open offices allow us to see one another, which contributes to trust. For example: I see you eating a sandwich, so I know you’re a human being and not a double-headed monster.

However, there are ways to encourage and implement trust nowadays without ever setting foot in an office. You can hold events. You can prize someone for showing up on a video call from an illustrious location. You can celebrate a team member when they’re most productive. You can let them work whenever they want.

The Right People Will Collaborate Openly

In today’s environment – in which tech is affordable and available – businesses should gravitate toward finding and retaining the right people and identifying the environments in which they do their best work. Whether or not someone lives close by is a terrible criterion for determining their value. As an organization, it’s your responsibility to provide people with the ability to be productive no matter how or where they operate.

This is the “openness” we encourage you to consider. We don’t all have to be under one roof to ensure success. That problem isn’t a problem at all anymore.

Learn more about how to create a more inclusive work environment here.