Companies love collaboration—it’s become the go-to approach to solve corporate problems and spur innovation. Yet by emphasizing it at the expense of solitary work, employers choke worker productivity and satisfaction.
A new report by Gensler, the global workplace design and architecture firm, found that workers are spending more time in focus work but feel less effective at it than before.
“Collaboration can be taken too far. It actually has diminishing returns,” said Diane Hoskins, co-CEO of Gensler, in an interview with Quartz. ”When everybody’s collaborating around you, you can’t focus.”
In the last few years, increased collaboration is both intentional, encouraged by managers intent on fostering innovation and shared resources, and unintentional, partly the result of corporate cutbacks in office space during the recession. Much of the reduced space affected collaboration areas, which pushed conversations and collaboration into the general work spaces, said Hoskins. “Everything was squeezed” and so workers felt less able to focus, the Gensler survey of 2,035 knowledge workers shows.