Shared Offices: Helpful or Hindering?

Gone are the days of the cubicle. Many companies now are switching to office layouts that are open and shared, with no permanent spot for each employee. A recent survey found that two-thirds of 400 global companies were planning to implement shared offices by 2020 (Sander, 2017).

Shared offices often make people think of trendy, progressive companies where an intern can share the same desk one day as the senior manager the day before. This is called hot-desking, when employees can switch from desk to desk each day (Sander, 2017). There are also activity-based spaces where employees have the choice between quiet workstations or open desks, depending on what task they are trying to accomplish (Sander, 2017).

Despite the desire to increase innovation, collaboration, and satisfaction between employees, a 2016 Australian study has found that shared office spaces lead to distrust between employees, less concentration, more time wasted, and less cooperation (Sander, 2017). Although management, work culture, and the nature of the job will determine the way a shared office space works for its employees, the idea of not having a permanent space itself means there is little personalization of the workspace that can be done by an employee, and may hinder the work performance of those who need less distractions (Sander, 2017).

If you are in a shared office, think about your working style. Do you enjoy background noise or do you need a quiet space to work? Depending on your workplace, headphones may be a strategy to try. If you are a visual person, ask your employer about putting in desks with dividers, to allow for the ability to switch desks yet have less visual distractions.

How do you feel about shared offices? Do you have any strategies that work for you?


Sander, L. (April 11, 2017). "The Research on Hot-Desking and Activity-Based Work Isn't So Positive". The Conversation

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