Togetherness Done Wrong—And Right

Casual chat in the office has come full circle. For years, companies discouraged it as an unproductive distraction. But in the 1990s, research started showing that informal encounters and conversations in the workplace can promote creativity and a healthy culture.

So for a while in the 80s, businesses did what they always do—they overdid a good thing. Suddenly open floor plans were all the rage. Some even created spaces just for informal meetings and “hanging out.”

More than a dozen studies looked at the effects of bringing people into each other’s space this way. And while there was some evidence of more interactions, there was at least as much evidence of a NEGATIVE impact. Because employees in open-plan spaces know they are more likely to be overheard, many have shorter and more superficial discussions.

So much for creative interaction!

The answer is a balance.

If your workplace leans too far in one direction or another, maybe it’s time for a chat with the boss. Striking the balance between us-time and me-time is worth doing right.

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