Open plan offices add to long hours culture, survey shows

Open-plan offices increase working hours, according to a Microsoft survey.

The research found that the growth of large, divider-free offices has coincided with an increase in staff putting in long hours over the past 30 years.

London School of Economics lecturer Carsten Sørensen believes that because open-plan offices make everyone visible, they increase the pressure on staff to put in long hours.

He said: “The move from individual offices to open plan made everyone visible and immediately accessible. It also made it clear to everyone who is at work and who is not.

“We are now at a stage where organisations fundamentally need to reconsider this arrangement as both customers and employees demand flexibility beyond that offered by the open-plan office.”

In the 1970s, open-plan offices and long hours were identified as characteristics of working life by 5% and 6% of employees respectively. In the 1980s, they were identified by 13% and 12% respectively; in the 1990s, by 33% and 22%; and today, by 53% and 37%.

YouGov interviewed 1,075 adults between 2 and 8 November this year for Microsoft.

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