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Communication, collaboration, and open plan offices

Whilst vast amounts of research has demonstrated the damaging effects of open plan offices on productivity, open plan offices are often seen as the more collaborative and sociable option.

New research, however, suggests that this may not be the case. A pair of scientific studies published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society suggest that open plan offices actually drive down the frequency of face-to-face communication and cause a significant rise in use of email and instant messenger.

Participants in the first study were recruited from a the global headquarters of a Fortune 500 multinational company that was about to undergo an office redesign – moving from individual cubicles to to an open plan design. Workers from all areas of the business wore a “sociometric badge” and microphone prior to and after the redesign.

The results were dramatic. Once the open plan design was implemented, people spent 73% less time in face-to-face communication, and the use of email and instant messenger increased by 67% and 75% respectively. A second study used a similar experimental design and found that face-to-face communication time decreased by approximately 70% on average, whilst email use increased by between 22%-50%.

These results show the importance of considered office design and the dangers of assumptions when it comes to these designs.

Stephen Hawking on the power of communication

Thank you to the most brilliant mind.

“For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen.

Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”

Four benefits of better speaking

Today I want to talk about the power of speaking. Five times as many people have watched my talk about speaking than the one about listening. That says a lot.
 
Speaking well is very important. And there’s a circular relationship between speaking and listening. Good speakers tend to be better listeners, and visa versa. Our speaking abilities have some very important outcomes.

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Interrupting: The ultimate conversation killer

One common habit that springs from the desire to be right is interrupting. This may result from speechwriting, as described earlier, but it can, and often does, arise with no planning at all—simply an overbearing desire to disagree, demand an answer or make a point now, without waiting for the other person to finish.

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Does public speaking get you down? 9 tips and tricks

Speaking and listening are critical skills for anyone who wants to make a difference, as a leader, a parent, a spouse, a friend or a colleague. So… how much thought, time and energy have you put into actively developing your speaking and listening? If the answer is not much, here are nine secrets of powerful speaking and conscious listening.

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