Fast Company

THE SLOW DEATH OF OPEN OFFICES

EMPLOYEES DON’T LIKE THEM. RESEARCH PROVES THEY’RE INEFFECTIVE. WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG FOR US TO GET RID OF THEM?

First, you tear down the walls and dispense with the soulless cubicles. Then you put everyone at long tables, shoulder to shoulder, so that they can talk more easily. Ditch any remaining private offices, which only enforce the idea that some people are better than others, and seat your most senior employees in the mix. People will collaborate. Ideas will spark. Outsiders will look at your office and think, This place has energy. Your staff will be more productive. Your company will create products unlike any the world has ever seen.

That is the myth of the open office, a workplace layout so pervasive that its presence is taken for granted, and its promises—of collaboration and innovation—are sacrosanct. According to a 2010 study by the International Facility Management Association, 68% of people worked in an office with either no walls or low walls—and the number has undoubtedly grown.

There’s just one

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