Tim Welsh, an assistant professor in the faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, recently published an article based on an experiment he carried out on graduate students that shows that the design of office workspace and the proximity of co-workers directly affect productivity. The finding: open space offices foster social and team collaboration, innovation and communication but when it comes to actually getting the individual tasks done, a more isolated environment promotes greater speed, accuracy and efficiency.

The author likens this effect to a complex assembly line where if you are doing a task and the person next to you is doing another task, you’ll be distracted and slow down because of a built in “response-interpretation mechanism” that’s hardwired into our nervous systems. The benefits of both design extremes requires an office designer to carefully assess who is going to be doing what, when and why.

Link to original post: Derek Sankey. The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, B.C.); April 12, 2008, pE7

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