NPR

Just How 'Open' Are Open Office Plans?

Open offices are designed to encourage more effective collaboration. But many people who work in them choose to isolate themselves instead.
Open offices are designed to encourage more effective collaboration. But many people who work in them choose to isolate themselves instead. (Venveo/Unsplash)

Open office plans are designed to encourage people to collaborate and communicate more effectively. But many people who work in these environments choose to isolate themselves instead, by wearing headphones and communicating through email and instant messaging services rather than talking in person.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson talks with Ethan Bernstein (@ethanbernstein), an associate professor at Harvard Business School, about a recent study he co-authored on open office plans.

“They’re very common. They’ve gone through ebbs and flows over the history of time,” Bernstein says. “They were very, very popular, say, in the ’60s and ’70s. They got a little bit less popular after that, and

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
A Pop Cyborg With A Human Heart
As the voice of Chairlift, Caroline Polachek crisscrossed indie and mainstream tastes. Her solo LP adds digital flex to that voice, melding real and "enhanced" performance into one penetrating force.
NPR3 min read
Mattis Takes Swipe At Trump: 'I Earned My Spurs On The Battlefield'
In a speech blending humor with a serious message, the former secretary of defense also quoted a warning by Lincoln against a leader "unfettered by conscience, precedent or decency."
NPR4 min read
'Past Their Prime' At 20? Book Chronicles Attitudes Toward Female Aging In America
Known for the punch of her columns, The New York Times' Gail Collins sprinkles conversational, sardonic asides throughout No Stopping Us Now in an effort to keep the decades-long hike spry.