Decades ago, it was hard for co-workers in an office to do informal collaboration. Why? Their work spaces were divided by formal offices—walls and doors. That’s one of the reasons that office designers came up with the open office plan: It was thought to increase creativity and sharing by enabling co-workers to bounce ideas off one another.
And it took off: Some estimates say that nearly three-fourths of all American workers spend their work days in an open office. But those arrangements have some drawbacks, too. They’re hard to establish privacy in, and they can have a negative impact on productivity. The noise can be an inhibitor, too, and they might encourage the spread of common office illnesses.
However, we’re probably not going to see a movement back toward closed office spaces. To help, there are some steps that employees and companies can take to mitigate any negative effects. This graphic can help.