Are open plan offices bad for productivity?

Open plan offices have become more popular than ever, but the results of a recent survey reveal that the trend may actually be damaging productivity.

Office design company Unispace asked 2,000 staff across four continents for their biggest bugbears related to open plan offices.

While many companies choose open plan offices to cut costs and encourage collaboration, the results suggest they may well find that jumping on the trend in the short term could take a hit on productivity and resulting profits in the longer term.

Workers surveyed by Unispace said they need to spend 50-75% of their work hours on tasks that need a very high level of focus, so it’s no surprise that their key concern is distraction.

Noise is one of the top two causes of this distraction according to staff across multiple industries, with some resorting to noise cancelling headphones or even choosing to work from home to concentrate.

Sam Sahni of Unispace says: “I think we profoundly underestimate the issue of sound in the workplace and the disruptive impact it has on the ability to be productive during the working day.”

Alongside increased volume, an “overly collaborative” atmosphere was the other top culprit for distraction. In fact, workers say that just two hours per day of face-to-face time is the maximum amount they need to work with colleagues effectively without hampering productivity.

The survey results are backed by Oxford Economics, who revealed in June 2018 that near-constant noise had “a negative effect on productivity for 63% of employees.”

Cheryl Bourne, assistant to the Property Director, says: “Here at Westmead House we offer larger open plan office space alongside small cellular offices, breakout areas and a meeting room. Together with our flexible license terms, this smart combination of spaces allows our occupiers to adapt to changing requirements while minimising disruption.”

For more information about office space at Westmead House in Farnborough, contact:

Nick Reeve of Curchod and Co 

T: 01252 710822

For smaller suites and licences, call Westmead House on 01252 548221 or email

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