PFM 20 8 - Page 6

‘Less Productive with Manager in Room’
ver half of office workers
would feel more comfortable
and be more productive with
their departmental manager sitting
away from them, new research
In a survey of more than 650 members
of the UK public, 55% said they would
prefer their boss to be positioned in a
private office rather than among the
wider team.
One of the main reasons for this is that
workers feel under undue pressure when
a manager is constantly present, leading
to a drop in concentration.
The findings come as open-plan
workspaces see continued popularity,
with more than eight million UK
employees thought to work in this
inclusive style of office.
In light of previous studies indicating that
an open layout could even be
detrimental to productivity, office design
and fit-out specialist Dale Office Interiors
set out to gauge exactly what impact this
type of set-up has on the average
employee, with particular focus on a
manager’s position in the workspace.
In response to the question ‘Would you
prefer your boss to work in an open-plan
office with you, or be in a private office?’
30% of participants said they would ‘feel
more comfortable’ with their manager in
a private office.
A further 25% believed they would ‘be
more productive’ without their manager
in close proximity.
Just 14.4% said their productivity would
increase if their boss was more visible
within the department.
However, the findings also highlight
some of the benefits of open-plan
working, with 29% of respondents
feeling they would enjoy better
communication with their manager in
such an environment.
Interestingly, the research revealed
discrepancies in the preferences of male
and female employees: while men
reported feeling more comfortable in an
open-plan space (54.3%), women
seemed to prefer working with their
manager in a private office (54.5%).
This finding appears to contradict
previous research suggesting male
employees thrive in a more hierarchical
set-up while women favour a more
‘egalitarian’ office culture and layout.
Age also appeared to have an impact on
responses to the poll.
For example, while employees aged
between 18 and 44 expressed more
favour towards an open-plan scheme for
reasons of both better communication
and increased productivity, their 45- to
64-year-old counterparts appeared to
perceive their productivity as higher
when their manager is situated in a
private office.
Overall, the findings suggest that
designing and configuring a workspace
requires flexibility. Despite the continued
popularity of open-plan offices, these
results show they are not necessarily
conducive to the comfort or productivity
of all staff.
Warren Bricknell, managing director of
Dale Office Interiors, says: “The office
as we have known it is becoming
defunct. We need to give the users of
the space – whether managers or
general staff – the choice to work how
and where they want to, to suit the task
at the time.
“This is the way workspaces will have to
go. It may be a desk or a booth, a bean
bag or a conference table – but people
want choice. It’s about being outcomesdriven rather than having a rigid,
traditional office layout and KPIs.”
The overall survey results are set out
below and the report is available in full
at: l a n - e mp l o y e e s - l e s s - p r o d u c t i v e manager-room-research-suggests/
Reader Reply: 208041
Would you prefer your boss to work in an open-plan office with you, or be in a
private office? (655 respondents)
Private office – I’d feel more
Private office – I’d be more productive
Open office – I’d have better
Open office – I’d be more productive
Preferences of men and women (%)
Open office - I'd have better communication
Private office - I'd feel more comfortable
Private office - I'd be more productive
Open office - I'd be more productive


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