The open office was once declared the solution to stagnating profits, slow product development, and the loss of talented workers. Cube farms were passé, and wide, sweeping rooms with nary a wall or physical barrier in sight were suddenly the answer. Cries of teamwork, innovation, and collaboration were in every corporate C-suite conference room. To sweeten the deal, stats about saving millions supported the open office, and corporate America rushed to redesign.
But then, more stats rolled in. Despite the maximized space, the distractions, diminishing personal space, and lack of privacy was blamed for destroying the workplace. Productivity went down instead of up, thanks to difficulties employees had in focusing. The laid back atmosphere contributed to decreased attention spans and lessened employee creativity. The big rooms with long tables bearing more workers scrunched into less space were not quite the hit they’d been touted to be.