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Let’s Agree to Disagree: Reflecting on the Open Office

The open workplace is not a new idea, and neither is criticism of it.

Does research showing negative correlations between productivity or collaboration mean we should scrap the open office?

We have found that in fact, everything hinges on how it’s done. Today, open workspaces are commonplace, and often the only option in the face of spiralling real-estate costs. The conversation is usually around ‘How should we do it?’ rather than ‘Should we do it at all?’

But a July 2018 study by Ethan S. Bernstein and Stephen Turban of Harvard University has reopened that debate. It found that when the walls come down, so do levels of collaboration and productivity.

We’ve compiled a breakdown of this topic with responses from three Unispace experts; Albert De Plazaola, Simon Pole and Sam Sahni.

In summary, they entirely understand why Bernstein and Turban got the results they did – but what they don’t agree with is the conclusions the study drew, and the implications for open workspaces.

To see their responses, check out the document here.