Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Open-Office Layouts And Their Impact On Productivity

During the Summer of 2016 and the Winter of 2016-2017, I had the privilege of working as a Financial Analyst Intern at MACOM, a semiconductor company located in Lowell, MA. The average age in this industry is approximately 50 years of age. This statistic explains the closed-office layout of the Lowell office quite well. Upon entering the MACOM office, I was welcomed by smiling faces and a sea of grey cubicles which extend far beyond what my eyes can see (Note: I have poor eyesight). I found that while at MACOM, my productivity was very high as I had my own isolated space to focus closely on my work. A downside to such a layout was that I found myself mentally exhausted at the conclusion of my day.

My experience at Arnold Worldwide the following Summer could not have been any more different. At Arnold, I work as a business strategy intern in the Business Strategy & Analytics department. Agencies attract a different crowd than companies working in industries such as semiconductors. Here, the average employee is approximately 28-34. The culture at advertising agencies differs greatly from companies with older employees. At Arnold there is a very open-office layout across each floor where an executive could sit a few steps from an intern. Silence is unfamiliar in this office as there is always chatter and music playing throughout the entire office. While I found this experience to be more “fun”, I definitely was less productive than in my cubicle at MACOM.

Both office layouts come with their own unique benefits. Closed designs encourage productivity and give employees their own space. Open designs encourage collaboration and keep employees energized. I have noticed that companies who employ Millennials primarily implement open designs as their employees value “fun” work environments. I support this layout, but believe that productivity is being sacrificed. As a result, deadlines could be difficult to meet without working overtime. I am curious to learn about companies in the future which implement hybrid models and how it affects their productivity and employee happiness.

Note: Everyone works differently in different environments. This is just my opinion!