Research Finds the Corner Office Can Be Counterproductive

Research Finds the Corner Office Can Be CounterproductiveMost of us know what it’s like to daydream about that coveted corner office. From sweeping views to ample space—or maybe just slightly more room—corner offices seem to hold a place in our minds that few other corporate accoutrements do. But should they?

According to the latest research conducted by office design company Steelcase, corner offices are ill-equipped to handle modern CEOs’ needs. In fact, over the course of the two-year study, the researchers discovered that the standard corner office seemed to impair organizational structures which value decision-making and consensus over a traditional top-down landscape.

“If they don’t have that [flexibility], the organization’s agility and ability to respond to market demands are at stake,” said Patricia Kammer, the Steelcase senior design researcher, in a recent interview with Business Insider.

Upwards of 20 companies around the world were analyzed in the Steelcase study. The ultimate goal was to learn more about how top-tier executives and CEOs spend their time in the workplace. What the company ultimately found was that today’s business leaders face a “battery of challenges” in the office, and therefore, place a heavier reliance upon assistants and switching between multiple tasks in any given day.

In other words, leaders would benefit more from environments intentionally designed to promote social interaction and activity. What does that mean for corner offices? Well, Steelcase makes a convincing point that the rooms themselves tend to isolate CEOs and reduce their efficiency, given their daily list of demands. “It’s not that [CEOs] misunderstand how their work gets done,” said Kammer. “It’s that their jobs have gotten harder.”

As business structures continue to evolve and old-fashioned hierarchies get uprooted in favor of communal workspaces, only time will tell if the corner office might one day become a relic of the past.