Over half of office workers would feel more comfortable and be more productive with their departmental manager sitting away from them, new research suggests.
In a survey of more than 650 members of the UK public, 55% said they would prefer their boss to be positioned in a private office rather than among the wider team.
One of the main reasons for this is that workers feel under undue pressure when a manager is constantly present, leading to a drop in concentration.
The findings come as open-plan workspaces see continued popularity, with more than eight million UK employees thought to work in this inclusive style of office.
In light of previous studies indicating that an open layout could even be detrimental to productivity, office design and fit-out specialist Dale Office Interiors set out to gauge exactly what impact this type of set-up has on the average employee, with particular focus on a manager’s position in the workspace.
In response to the question ‘Would you prefer your boss to work in an open-plan office with you, or be in a private office?’ 30% of participants said they would ‘feel more comfortable’ with their manager in a private office.
A further 25% believed they would ‘be more productive’ without their manager in close proximity.
Just 14.4% said their productivity would increase if their boss was more visible within the department.
However, the findings also highlight some of the benefits of open-plan working, with 29% of respondents feeling they would enjoy better communication with their manager in such an environment.
Interestingly, the research revealed discrepancies in the preferences of male and female employees: while men reported feeling more comfortable in an open-plan space (54.3%), women seemed to prefer working with their manager in a private office (54.5%).
This finding appears to contradict previous researchsuggesting male employees thrive in a more hierarchical set-up while women favour a more ‘egalitarian’ office culture and layout.
Age also appeared to have an impact on responses to the poll.
For example, while employees aged between 18 and 44 expressed more favour towards an open-plan scheme for reasons of both better communication and increased productivity, their 45- to 64-year-old counterparts appeared to perceive their productivity as higher when their manager is situated in a private office.
Overall, the findings suggest that designing and configuring a workspace requires flexibility. Despite the continued popularity of open-plan offices, these results show they are not necessarily conducive to the comfort or productivity of all staff.
Warren Bricknell, managing director of Dale Office Interiors, says: “The office as we have known it is becoming defunct. We need to give the users of the space – whether managers or general staff – the choice to work how and where they want to, to suit the task at the time.
“This is the way workspaces will have to go. It may be a desk or a booth, a bean bag or a conference table – but people want choice. It’s about being outcomes-driven rather than having a rigid, traditional office layout and KPIs.”
The overall survey results are set out below and the report is available in full at: http://daleoffice.co.uk/open-plan-best-plan-employees-less-productive-manager-room-research-suggests/
Would you prefer your boss to work in an open-plan office with you, or be in a private office?
Private office – I’d feel more comfortable 30%
Private office – I’d be more productive 25%
Open office – I’d have better communication 29%
Open office – I’d be more productive 14.4%
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Dale Office Interiors