This is a great article by the Harvard Business Review that talks about the ongoing debate regarding open office space vs having hard-walled offices.
Casual interactions and friendly chitchat among employees were forbidden in the office before. However, in today’s office settings, employees are encourage to socialize with their colleagues at work to encourage innovation and cooperation. This new approach leads to new office designs that promote interactions among employees.
Studies show that more employees interact more in their private offices in spite of the office redesigning where their offices were linked to shopping malls, café, medical and sports facilities. This leads to the conclusion that it is best to remove physical barriers in the office and redesign private offices with open floor plans that encourage casual interaction and collaboration among employees. Removing the physical barriers may bring people closer; however, it could also reduce privacy.
The most effective office spaces bring employees together and remove any barriers while providing enough privacy that employees need not worry of being interrupted or overheard. Professor Thomas Allen discovered and formulated the Allen Curve where the frequency of employee’s interaction in an R&D complex decreases with the distances between their offices.