Open working environments have become increasingly popular in recent history; it is estimated that about 70% of office spaces in the United States have open floor plans. Open work environments come in a range of configurations but tend to feature a “lack of interior walls, tend to be larger and contain greater numbers of workers, with individual workstations arranged within the office in groups”. The rise in these arrangements has led to an increased body of literature seeking to understand how working in these environments impacts workers, whether in terms of employment satisfaction or job motivation. Employers believe that these new arrangements can help to foster collaboration as well as provide practical cost savings.
In addition to these benefits, a growing body of research suggests that there are a number of negative consequences for employees stemming from open work environments. These include issues related to privacy and distractions in the workplace. The literature on open workplaces is decidedly mixed, showing that these environments have both benefits and drawbacks depending on the specific dimensions evaluated. Effectively managing some of the negative effects of these working environments will be important to ensuring that firms are able to maximize the benefits from open work environments.