A 'Collaborative' Workplace Environment Might Produce Mediocre Results, According to Study

"Open-plan" offices are all the rage, but they may encourage a lower bar for work performance.

Open office plan


Taylor Tobin
Taylor Tobin1.84k

In this age of open-plan offices, the notion that constant interaction with your team results in better results is a popular one. However, a study recently published in Psychology Today refutes that assumption, instead suggesting that constant collaboration can make top performers feel isolated and less motivated to work up to their potential.

In their coverage of the Psychology Today study, Inc. pointed out that open-plan offices come with a number of obstacles — like noise pollution and frequent interruptions — that can feel grating to high-performing introverts. Also, a workplace that demands collaboration can inadvertently encourage competition in a negative way; when everyone is told to “share their ideas," idea theft easily runs rampant. 

While not all high achievers identify as introverts, those that do often find open-plan offices are a deterrent to their professional growth. In many cases, introverted employees who request an alternative to working within an open-plan space are urged to work from home, which results in even further social isolation. While the introvert may not mind in the moment, she will mind the adverse results of that status, like becoming the target of office chatter or potentially being overlooked for leadership roles.

"Collaborative” environments promote a super-casual office culture — often with a lack of accountability or hierarchy. And according to Inc., "The No. 1 reason high performers leave organizations in which they are otherwise happy is because of the tolerance of mediocrity." Feeling that they have no room to focus, and, therefore, to succeed, top performers could feel the need to leave organizations that are obsessed with collaboration.