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 readPolitics
'I Want To Go Back': The Yazidi Girls Who Did Not Want To Be Rescued From ISIS
The girls, ages 10 and 11, were held captive for years and remember nothing of their Yazidi heritage. They miss the ISIS woman who looked after them and tell rescuers they want to return to her.
NPR4 min read
Joy Harjo Becomes The First Native American U.S. Poet Laureate
A member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, the 68-year-old poet and musician says she bears "the honor on behalf of the people and my ancestors" and aims to serve as an "ambassador" of the art form.
NPR4 min read
Mobile Salon Empowers Black Girls To Break Into The Hair Industry
In Columbus, Ohio, hair stylist Queen Roshae is teaching young black kids how to turn hair into a career.