NPR

Just How 'Open' Are Open Office Plans?

Open offices are designed to encourage more effective collaboration. But many people who work in them choose to isolate themselves instead.
Open offices are designed to encourage more effective collaboration. But many people who work in them choose to isolate themselves instead. (Venveo/Unsplash)

Open office plans are designed to encourage people to collaborate and communicate more effectively. But many people who work in these environments choose to isolate themselves instead, by wearing headphones and communicating through email and instant messaging services rather than talking in person.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Ethan Bernstein (@ethanbernstein), an associate professor at Harvard Business School, about a recent study he co-authored on open office plans.

“They’re very common. They’ve gone through ebbs and flows over the history of time,” Bernstein says. “They were very, very popular, say, in the ’60s and ’70s. They got a little bit less popular after that, and

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readSociety
6 People Shot, 1 Fatally, At Graduation Party In Philadelphia
Four of the people injured were teenagers. "It's just another case of wanton and senseless violence that we can't get our brains around," the city's police commissioner said.
NPR12 min readPolitics
Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell
The Senate majority leader wants to raise the age for tobacco sales to 21. An NPR review of once-secret documents shows how closely McConnell has worked with the industry over decades.
NPR5 min read
A Year After Spinal Surgery, A $94,000 Bill Feels Like A Backbreaker
A service called neuromonitoring can cut the risk of nerve damage during delicate surgery. But some patients are receiving large bills they didn't expect.