We’ve already discussed the “Is the Office Dead?” scenario that many people are talking about with regards to the future of the workplace.

With advancements in technology, it is easy to see how people may believe that offices will become obsolete, but as we already know, this isn’t the case.

Still need more convincing? Let’s take a look at some research which was carried out by Tom Allen from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Allen Curve

Allen carried out this research in the 1970’s with a group of engineers to prove that it’s not the lack of office that can cause a breakdown of communication, but simply the physical distance between work colleagues.

Using this research, Allen and his team created the “Allen Curve”; a graph which shows the findings of the research, proving that the further away people are situated, the less they will communicate. Allen found that a distance of around 50 metres was a cut off point for the frequency of communication to dwindle.

The Future of the Physical Office

This research has proved that offices are crucial for face to face communication. Even though advancement in technology has decreased the need to verbally communicate and made the aspect of physical distance almost irrelevant, it is still important that employees are encouraged to do so.

It’s human nature to be innovative, and without being able to talk to a person physically, it is generally quite difficult to understand situations. Humans are very visual beings and we learn a lot from studying other people’s body language and expressions.


Although technology makes communication quick and painless, you don’t get the same working relationship with your co-workers which is integral for innovation and creativity.

Allen addresses his findings in his book “The Organization and Architecture of Innovation” which was published in 2011 and co-authored by a German architect, Gunter Henn. The book takes a look at how the access to physical closeness with co-workers and flow of information affects the output of innovative ideas.

Allen and Henn state that “Rather than finding that the probability of telephone communication increases with distances, as face to face probability decays, our data shows a decay in the use of all communication media with distance. We do not keep separate sets of people, some of which we communicate in one medium and some by another. The more often we see someone face to face, the more likely it is that we will telephone the person or communicate in some other medium.”

finger with green phone keypad

So not only do people not communicate verbally when the physical distance from their co-workers is increased, but the communication using other media also decreases.

The physical office isn’t going anywhere fast, no matter what rumours are flying around. As providers of commercial interior design in London, this is music to our ears. We understand how important an office environment is, and it is our mission to ensure that businesses have suitable office designs in place to aid them with their innovations.

For more information on the services that we provide here at Officescape, don’t hesitate to contact us today by calling 01553 811833 and a member of our team will be happy to help you.

circle pointer

Get in touch with us

contact us +