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Employee satisfaction declines over all measures with open plan offices

It’s unusual for an in-house lawyers not to have a private office, but some law departments have adopted the so-called “open plan” arrangement (See my posts of Feb. 20, 2005 and Nov. 8, 2005 on SEI; and Nov. 19, 2005 and May 7, 2006 on cubicles for lawyers.). Call me conservative, but the new layout of open office spaces for lawyers troubles me.

At last, some backup for my discontent! In Cal. Mgt. Rev., Vol. 49, Winter 2007 at 9, an article on workplace design – in an entire issue devoted to the physical space of offices – there is some objective corroboration. “In a recent longitudinal study conducted to survey employee satisfaction when moving from a traditional office space to an open plan office space, the researchers found out that employee satisfaction decreased over all dependent measures used.” Privacy, prestige, and personalization are just some of the felt benefits of one’s own office; rearrange them and morale moves downward.

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