There are quite a few studies debunking the effectiveness of Open-Plan Offices (sometimes named Open Space), such as this study by the Queensland University of Technology. However, I wonder whether it might be true that OPOs might have any positive impacts. Is there any proof for that or is there only evidence to the contrary?
The cost of fit-out for open-plan areas is much lower than traditional offices.
For example, this interior decorator suggests:
An open plan office design traditionally cost approx $400 per square meter. An average office fitout with a few offices traditionally costs approx $550 - $750 per square meter depending on the level of finish required.
(That's Australian dollars, but the units are largely irrelevant.)
If you squeeze more people per square metre into an open-plan area than a traditional office, that is even more savings per employee.
(I'm half-expecting responses that this is a false economy, but that is largely dependent on the commercial conditions the company finds itself in. There may well be some situations where it makes good economic sense to sacrifice longer term productivity in order to reduce up-front costs.)
It depends on the job: for programmers, productivity trumps cost effectiveness and open plan is bad
This answer might count as incestuous on a stackexchange site, but, what the hell.
Some time ago Joel Spolsky argued that making programmers more productive dominated everything else in a software company (I'm simplifying his argument a bit). As a result he recommended the following (my emphasis):
So that is at least one, expert, source who thinks open plan is a productivity killer (at least for programmers).
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