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Do open plan offices improve business communication?

Do open plan offices improve business communication?

Open plan offices have become more popular with small business in recent years.

The chairman of the British Council for Offices, Matt Oakley, remarked recently that modern office buildings have fewer personal offices with their own doors. Cost does come into the equation, but he says the trend is also a result of the workplace becoming less hierarchical.

Furthermore, it reflects the idea that the office and workplace should be about sharing ideas and new ways of doing things, something that doesn’t happen when people are closeted away.

Oakley also observed that businesses increasingly provide break-out areas for staff and nearly 50% of business space is taken up by social areas and meeting rooms, rather than simply rows of desks and PCs.

But have open plan offices led to better communication? Apparently not, if the results of a study by Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann are to be believed.

The global executive search firm found that only 20% of UK workers believe their boss possesses good communication skills, a skill ranked as most important for a good leader. Workers also think their boss should possess good team motivation skills but only 13% said their boss was a good motivator. Worse still, only 14% of the employees questioned said their boss had integrity.

Tom Vardy, the MD of Korn/Ferry Whitehead Mann, said the results of the study show that although employees say their boss does not display the necessary leadership skills, experience shows that in reality they do have them but are more effective at demonstrating them to shareholders and the media. However, the best leaders succeed by demonstrating their leadership characteristics to customers, colleagues, the media, shareholders and employees.

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Image: Open Office by Editor B

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