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Business cases developed by The University of Hong Kong that are Asian-business related are located here.

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Innovate New Harvard Study: Getty Images For years tech companies and other open-plan evangelists have argued that despite employees' grumblings about privacyopen-plan offices have one killer selling point -- they spur employees to interact more, sparking fresh ideas and boosting collaboration.

It's a compelling story one that also sounds nicer as a justification than lower real estate costsbut many people who have actually tried to talk to a colleague in a wide-open, too-quiet office have been suspicious of the claim. Now science has backed up their hunch.

If you've long felt open-plan offices were a collaboration killer, a new Harvard study proves you were right all along. More email, less conversation. The design of the research was simple but incredibly clever.

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Study two Fortune companies planning to make a switch to open-plan offices and compare how employees interact both before and after the new office design. To do this, Harvard researchers Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban had participating employees wear a gizmo called a sociometric badge.

For three weeks before and after the redesign it recorded wearers' movement, location, posture and, via infrared and sound sensors, their every conversation with colleagues. The researchers also reviewed the number of text messages and emails subjects sent during the test period.

The results have just been published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. What did they show?

In short, as walls came down, so did the number of interactions among co-workers. Simultaneously, the number of emails and text messages shot up.

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In the 15 days before the office redesign, participants accumulated an average of around 5. After the switch to the open layout, the same participants dropped to around 1.

That's an astonishing four hours less of collaboration per day. The study co-authors were blunt in their assessment of the data: But, you might object, maybe all that interaction before was time-wasting chitchat.

Maybe open-plan offices eliminate the privacy necessary for slackingpushing people to talk less frequently but more substantively. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, point them to this study.

Jul 9, More from Inc.Harvard Business Case Studies Solutions – Assignment Help. In most courses studied at Harvard Business schools, students are provided with a case study.

Find new ideas and classic advice on strategy, innovation and leadership, for global leaders from the world's best business and management experts.

Harvard business review case studies sign in

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