Should open offices include the boss? Many employees say no
- Dale Office Interiors, a UK-based firm, asked UK workers online if open office space should include their boss. More than half (55%) of the 650 workers said they would feel more comfortable and more productive if their boss was in a separate office. Only 14.4% said their productivity would increase if the boss were visible.
- The survey found that women were less likely than men to want their boss working along side them in an open office area. While most men (54.3%) said they felt comfortable sharing open office space with their boss, most women (54.5%) preferred that their boss work in a private office.
- Dale also found differences between older and younger workers. Employees ages 45 to 64 said they would be more productive if their boss worked in a private office, while workers between 18 and 44 favor open work spaces because they think communication and productivity would be better.
Managers and supervisors might prefer private office spaces, because much of their work involves overseeing, evaluating and documenting workers' performance or meeting one-on-one with staff to discuss assignments or work-related problems. These tasks require a certain amount of privacy that an open-office environment wouldn't easily provide.
A University of Toronto study claims that open-office workspaces create a more egalitarian environment, which is better suited to women's collaborative work style. But perhaps that does not always include the boss, as noted by this study.
Studies affirm younger workers' preference for open-office areas. Design firms are creating home-like office spaces to attract millennials, who like the social interaction of being at work. Open-office design might be the workspace of the future, but employees whose jobs require concentration and focus prefer quiet, solitary workspaces.
General Electric, Northwestern Mutual and Apple are among U.S. companies that have adopted open-office layouts. Employers that are thinking about transitioning from wall-in offices to open workspace must consider workers who prefer quiet, more private work areas.