and Buildings, users generally rate the possibility for knowledge sharing as one of the concepts most positive aspects. 26In similar fashion, the surveys conducted by Leesman show consistently high scores for the facilitation of informal social interaction and unplanned meetings.27One point to note, however, is that it is mostly interaction across teams that benefits from ABW. 28Interactions within teams may actually deteriorate as team members are no longer necessarily located in the same area. 29Distractions and a lack of privacyWhen reviewing research outcomes in relation The almost inevitable downside of improved interaction isto ABW, it is important to look closely at what was a decline in the ability to concentrate. Distractions, noiseactually being studied. This is well illustrated by a Swedish study of office types which found that and a lack of privacy are often mentioned as ABWs mainemployee satisfaction was highest in cell offices weaknesses (although matters are worse in open-planand lowest in hot-desking offices. 30This study 32, 33, 34, 35 is often seized on by ABW opponents in arguing offices).This is somewhat surprising as the ABWthat ABW is a bad idea. 31But that may be too hasty concept explicitly aims to facilitate both collaborative anda conclusion. The study looked at hot desking, individual work. It is probable that many first-generationwhich the researchers explicitly define as desk ABW offices were too open. The complaints also seem tosharing in open-plan officeswithout support spaces such as quiet rooms. So not really ABW relate to peoples limited switching behaviour (see below)at all. This does not make the study any less which means that people stay put at a workstation eveninterestingit is an excellent studybut it does when they consider that area too noisy. The challenge ismean that its outcomes should be treated with therefore not only to provide quiet spaces, but also to getcare when discussing ABW.people to use them.Less mobile than expectedSeveral studies show that employees are less mobile in ABW offices than expected, making use of only a limited set of workplaces rather than the full range of available options. 36, 37, 38The reasons for this are diverse. A practical barrier concerns the inefficiency of moving around (plugging out/in, packing/unpacking, adjusting furniture). A psychological reason may be peoples tendency to develop routines, such as using the same desk, as means to manage their busy work lives. 39A social reason is that people want to remain seated close to their colleagues. 40All three are valid reasons, but it is important to encourageThe modern workplace is filled with what mobility as research shows that the more mobile peopleresearchers call externally generated involuntary are, the happier they are with the ABW concept. 41, 42, 43 distractions or EGIDS: 44noisy colleagues, phone calls and people walking past. Such distractions can be acceptable while performing Productivity remains elusive well-learnt, routine tasks, but they can hamper The impact on productivity is the holy grail of workplacepeoples performance when it comes to new or complex tasks. The ABW office aims to deal research: much sought after, but notoriously hard to find.with this issue by providing spaces for both The problem is that there are many factors involved andcommunication and concentration.that the productivity of office workers is usually hard to measure. To deal with this, most studies limit themselves to perceived or self-rated productivity. But even then, it is difficult to reach conclusions. Some studies have found positive impacts, others negative ones, and some have found zero effects. 45, 46Positive impacts are associatedwith improved communications and an increasedsense of empowerment. 47Negative impacts relate toan increase in distractions and the extra time neededto find a workplace. 48 28