A Comparison of Psychological and Work Outcomes in Open-Plan and Cellular Office Designs: A Systematic Review

Olivia James, Paul Delfabbro, Daniel L. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A high percentage of information-based work is now conducted in open-plan offices as opposed to traditional cellular offices. In this systematic review, we compare health, work, and social outcomes as well as employee outcomes for workers in the two environments. From a total of 10,242 papers reviewed, we identified 31 papers which met strict inclusion/exclusion criteria of allowing a direct comparison between the office types. The results showed that working in open-plan workplace designs is associated with more negative outcomes on many measures relating to health, satisfaction, productivity, and social relationship. Notable health outcomes included decreased overall health and increased stress. Environmental characteristics of particular concern included noise and distractions, poor privacy, lighting and glare, and poorer temperature control. Most studies indicated negative effects on social relationships and interactions. Overall, the findings showed that while open-plan workplace designs may offer financial benefits for management, these appear to be offset by the intangible costs associated with the negative effects on workers. The study encourages further focused investigations into design factors as well as employee characteristics that might contribute to better outcomes in open-plan designs.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalSAGE Open
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • office design
  • open-plan
  • psychological effects
  • social relationships
  • work outcomes

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