Although several studies have examined the impact of open workspaces, there is still an on-going debate about its advantages and disadvantages. Our paper contributes to this debate by shedding light on three issues: the effect of open workspaces on (1) the flow of communication along
and across hierarchical lines; (2) the content of communication; and (3) the specificities of open integrated laboratories. Our findings derive from a longitudinal case in a large pharmaceutical company that has relocated some R&D teams from enclosed to multi-space offices and labs. The
relocation has resulted in (a) increased interdisciplinary communication, particularly at lower hierarchical levels, (b) a shift of the location of discussions and the content of conversations and (c) an improved knowledge about expertise distribution.
Practitioner Summary: Communication
is essential in knowledge-driven organisations. This article examines the impact of a relocation of R&D employees from enclosed to multi-space offices and labs on communication patterns. We explain how the new environment fosters interdisciplinary communication, shifts the location of
discussions and increases the knowledge of expertise distribution.
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distribution of expertise;
Document Type: Research Article
Faculty of Business and Social Management, University of Applied Sciences Koblenz, Remagen, Germany
Faculty of Management, Cass Business School, City, University of London, London, UK
Department of Management, Technology and Economics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
August 3, 2018
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