A recent survey of office employees found noisy colleagues, open office concept, and the policy of unassigned desks as the 1-2-3 of distractions and lost productivity.( Paula Wilson-Shopify)

Survey: New office work space trends are actually counter-productive

Open-office and unassigned work desks, i.e., not dedicated to a particular person but open to anyone who needs a spot, are relatively recent office trends.

A new survey finds that a majority of workers find such ideas unappealing and that it lowers their productivity. Kane Wilmott, CEO and founder of iQ Offices co-working space explains.


The survey of over 1,500 Canadians by Maru/Blue for iQ found that 57 per cent of employees felt that distractions at work meant up to two hours of lost productivity.

Kane Wilmott, CEO and founder of iQ Offices (supplied)

Loud and chatty colleagues, open-concept offices, unassigned workspaces (sometimes called hot desks, or nomad seating) and time wasting meetings are ranked first to fourth as the main distractions to productivity. An even greater percentage (73%) felt they could save up to two hours a day in a more productive environment.

“Canadians overwhelmingly highlight design, physical environment productivity challenges like nomad seating arrangements, noise and distracting open concept design, ahead of other workload-related challenges, such as excessive email (17 percent) or unexpected extra work (19 percent),” Kane Willmott, iQ Offices

Almost 2/3 (64%) said they’d accept a lower salary if the workplace was more conveniently located and better designed for productivity and employee satisfaction.

The noise and lack of privacy of the open office concept are distractions. Willmott also says “we’re creatures of habit” and the issue of nomad seating is another productivity challenge and contributes to a sense of lack of belonging, resulting in a lessening of loyalty to a company.

Other things that can add to productivity are windows with natural light, and plants.

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