White Paper

Paralysis by confusion

Research from scientists David Myers and Robert Lane reveals that too much choice can lead to depression and loneliness. And in his book The Paradox of Choice – why more is less; American Psychologist Barry Schwartz argues that reducing consumer choice decreases consumers’ anxiety. This is equally true in today’s workplace.

Our working culture has moved from a one person, one desk structure, where the only choice was where to sit in the staff restaurant, to an often completely decentralised model, where people sit in different spaces throughout the day depending on their tasks and the availability of space. This change has typically been introduced with little training on how to adapt to the environment and is not suitable for everyone. While extroverts might be inspired by the idea of sitting next to different people each day, or working in different spaces every hour, an introvert would find that disturbing and counterproductive.

This white paper argues that organisations need to look at the type of people they employ before they design an office, and harmonise the office to the workforce rather than the other way round. It will argue that people must be trained to use space and not simply left to get on with it. It will call for a reduction in choice in the office environment to reduce the risk of paralysis by confusion.

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