Open-plan offices were intended to increase an organization’s collective intelligence by creating more opportunities for face-to-face interaction. In theory, this made perfect sense. Removing cubicle walls meant seeing more faces of more co-workers, which should obviously increase face-to-face interaction. More collaboration means an organization that’s nimbler and more innovative.

However, according to a detailed Harvard study entitled “The Impact of the ‘Open’ Workspace on Human Collaboration,” the introduction of an open-plan environment in two Fortune 500 companies reduced face-to-face interaction by 70 percent. Rather than communicate face-to-face, workers in such an environment used email and texting more frequently than when they worked in a less transparent environment.

Unfortunately, email and texting are not nearly as effective as face-to-face at creating collaboration. Furthermore, open plan increased social influence (because you can see what everyone else is doing), which made the organization less effective…

Full Article: