Leadership

Here's how an open floor plan can hurt your productivity

While open floor plans have been growing in popularity, the office design could be hurting your productivity, especially if you're an introvert. That's according to Susan Cain, the best-selling author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking."

Cain, who is one of the most popular TED Talks speakers of all time with over 17 million views, has long been a critic of open floor plans for all employees.

"There's a whole mountain of research out there talking about how problematic it can be to be working completely out there, subject to interruption all day long [and] never really getting to focus," she tells CNBC Make It.

Cain may be on to something. According to a survey by the research firm IPSOS, employees who work in an open floor office lose 86 minutes a day due to distractions. In fact, most employees (95 percent) would rather work in enclosed private spaces.

Other studies have also shown that high-performing employees need quiet spaces. There's even a noted positive correlation between privacy, higher job satisfaction and work performance.

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With open floor plans, "you feel like you're constantly getting interrupted all the time and it takes you twice as long to complete whatever task you're working on," Cain explains.

While this is a key issue for all workers, it's even more pronounced for introverted employees.

"Introverts react more to stimulation," she says. "If they're out in an open floor all day long with lots of noise coming at them and interruptions... it makes it neurobiologically that much harder to get their work done."

In fact, constant stimulation leaves introverted employees feeling drained and unengaged, says Cain. "For introverts, we feel at our most alive and switched on when things are a bit calmer," she says.

However, Cain notes that she's not against all open spaces. In fact, she supports the idea of companies creating "social spaces" where employees can choose to work in that kind of environment, mill around, connect with one another and get out of the office.

"That's great as long as everybody at all times has access to their own private space," she says.

But even that has its limitations. Often, when companies do utilize private spaces, employees have to sign up for them at least a week in advance and the rooms are almost always completely booked, says Cain.

"If you can't get the space when you need it then it's not effective," she says. "If it were up to me I would abolish open plan offices."

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