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Open-plan offices are killing productivity. Is it time to send your staff home?

Eagle-eyed micro-managers love open-plan offices. However, employees are far less satisfied. Keen to ditch lengthy commutes and get away from annoying co-workers, most people would prefer to work from home.

Open-plan office spaces are the norm. They bring teams closer together by ensuring that colleagues are constantly connected. Likewise, the also come with a few money-saving perks for business owners. As there is only one room to heat or cool, expenses are far cheaper. Also, whole floors can share printers, photocopiers and kitchen facilities.

Yet, workers are falling out of love with communal work spaces, as the emergence of technology makes it easier to work from elsewhere.

As a result, employees want to ditch the office and work at home. A study by management firm Deltek showed that 70% of workers would rather telecommute than travel to work. According to research by communications platform Fuze, 38% feel that they would enjoy their work life more if they could work remotely.

Open-plan offices - Comeplo

A lack of privacy and frequent spread of illnesses are just some of the reasons why employees would rather ditch the open-plan office. However, employees are worried that productivity would fall if workers weren’t being constantly monitored.

Although, new evidence shows quite the opposite.

Open-plan offices - Comeplo

Does ditching open-plan offices produce better results?

The Journal of Environmental Psychology has published a report into workspace satisfaction. The study looked at 40,000 workers in 300 different offices. It found that open-plan offices actually reduced productivity, due to the constant noise and visual pollution caused by wandering and chatty co-workers.

Research showed that those working from enclosed private offices outperformed those in open-plan layouts in the vast majority of areas.

Open-plan offices - Comeplo

You only have to compare the success of innovate companies such as Automattic (the makers of WordPress) to Yahoo! (who recent went remote-free) to see how allowing employees to work from home can be far more success than not.

Luckily for employees, it seems that the business world is finally taking notice of the lack of need for communal office spaces and the benefits of keeping employees happy.

A survey conducted at the Global Leadership Summit found that 34% of business leaders believe that more than half of their employees would work remotely by 2020. Likewise, it is believed that over three quarters will have escaped the traditional open-plan office.

Startup fads such as ‘fun offices’, complete with ping-pong tables and pinball machines, have come and gone without doing much good for job satisfaction. However, remote working is likely to have a much larger impact on staff well-being and happiness.

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