Ep 10 – Are Open Concept Offices Hurting Creativity?

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Ep 10 – Are Open Concept Offices Hurting Creativity?

There’s just something about a quiet room, my computer, and a to-do list that really gets me in the mood to get shit done. And yet working alone is something that is often frowned upon in a corporate environment. We’re supposed to be collaborating, communicating and working together.

Open office floor plans were supposed to help make collaboration easier. We don’t just have an open door policy, hell, we have no door at all. Remember when we had doors? Remember when we could close them and hide in our office faxing and sending those paper inter-office memos? Those were the days.

In 2017, a survey estimated that 68 percent of American offices had low or no separation between workers. More employees than ever are craving privacy and a distraction-free environment which has fueled the headphone economy. Our featured story for today comes from the Atlantic and is titled, “Workers Love AirPods Because Employers Stole Their Walls.”

Creativity is so important and is open office layouts hurting our ability to innovate and create? Creativity expert Christiane Michaelis weighs in:

So they are saying disrupt or be disrupted and are all these industries that have changed so much like Uber is just one example or a B and B that has really changed the market in a very short amount of time. So people can just do the business as they used to. And to find new ways to do that and that’s where we need creativity. The other aspect is that I think you had a podcast recently about this topic about automation and I transforming the workplace in a very impactful way in the very near future. So our workforce is going to change completely and the prediction is that within the next five to 10 years almost 50 percent of the jobs that exist today in the U.S. won’t exist in this form anymore. And again creativity is our human competitive advantage compared to artificial intelligent machines and creativity at this point is something that machines are not used at yet they can adapt human creativity or can modify what has been invented before. They’re not good at coming up with something completely new and different. And I think that’s where we we as humans playing have to play our strength and find our place and that’s what makes creativity so important in every domain of work for the future.

While quiet time is important, we really need teamwork to drive creativity and innovation in our offices. The Atlantic article also mentions that open offices decrease face-to-face interaction among co-workers by as much as 70 percent, in stark contrast to the designers’ stated goal of collaborative teamwork. Maybe this is another case for investing in more offsite and formal team building events and less open office concepts to aid in developing employee relationships allowing for time to GSD but also to connect and create together.

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Featured Story

Workers Love AirPods Because Employers Stole Their Walls

More Great Resource

Why It’s Time to Ditch Open Office Plans

Pros and Cons Of An Open Office

Ep 172 – Fostering a Culture of Creativity at Work

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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