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Thread: Why open plan offices are bad for us

  1. #1

    Default Why open plan offices are bad for us

    I thought this was an interesting article. I have worked in both open plan, and closed offices. Personally, I work quite well in both, but I do know of a few people who hate open plan (especially people who are introverted).

    Numerous companies have embraced the open office — about 70% of US offices are open concept — and by most accounts, very few have moved back into traditional spaces with offices and doors. But research that we’re 15% less productive, we have immense trouble concentrating and we’re twice as likely to get sick in open working spaces, has contributed to a growing backlash against open offices.
    http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/201...g-our-memories

    Maybe with all the excess office space in Alberta's downtown's, there will be a bit of a shift back now?

  2. #2
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    A lot of cubicles at my office (mine included) have high walls with sliding cubicle doors. It has that "office-ey" feel to it, while still being able to talk to (shout at) my team. I've done the whole open concept thing, and didn't like it at all.

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    What gets me is such bold new visions as "hotdesking" ignore well established findings that part of memory chunking is spatially located or associated. So that memories and place can be imbedded and triggered. Put same person in a different space and recall is not as good.

    Next, bonding. Lets all bond with office staff in an office environment complete with water coolers, triangulation, gossip. Won't that be fun. I wonder when managers will comprehend that enforced bonding doesn't work but instead potentially creates resentment, and even greater discord. The manager cited in the article yanks people from working at home so that they can bond with others in the enforced open office space. Won't that go well (sarcasm).

    Theres this notion that humans are social creatures as a rule but in which assumes that interaction will be social, rather than antisocial. That immersed contact will be positive, rather than annoying. That results, production, harmony will increase.

    Heres some more. When you go full open office this results in everybodies work being on display which can undermine any spirit of meritocracy as the people that advance are company people and not just advanced on production, skill, performance etc. Open office can remove any illusion that the office conducts business on an "open" and fair basis for all its employees. Not to mention any friction, dysfunction, discord, being fully aired through the open space.

    Finally, open space is of course beneficial for contagion, sickness, lost time at work. When these are applied in winter cities with closed air, flu seasons and such this is no small lost productivity point.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  4. #4

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    hotdesking is great for staff that don't need a full time desk. Office space cost money, and a wasted space that's barely used all day because someone is in meetings, offsite or working remotely is more costly that what ever perceived loss of productivity occurs from memory chunking? While I don't disagree that there is potential for this occur, students have no problem studying in one space, and taking a test in another space.

    As far as contagion, hotdesking wont make this any worse. Door handles, bathrooms, and peoples general lack of hygiene will still be the main culprits.

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    Contact contagion is easily limited by good hygiene, disinfecting hands regularly, not making hand to eye, nose, or mouth contact.

    Contagion sneezing on the other hand ends up being impossible to avoid in an open office, closed air supply.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/ar...oom-hours.html



    Hotdesking in almost any application can be replaced with "homedesking" as almost any employee prefers. The office concept to begin with is an increasingly outmoded concept. Almost all work that occurs in an office can occur at home, community, or at occasional meeting sites.

    Just as an aside visualization of the space where you study can sometimes bring about recall during exams. Its harder to do but possible. Memories can also be associated with time, smell, food, bus, plane, music, etc.
    Last edited by Replacement; 17-01-2017 at 10:40 AM.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Medwards View Post
    hotdesking is great for staff that don't need a full time desk. Office space cost money, and a wasted space that's barely used all day because someone is in meetings, offsite or working remotely is more costly that what ever perceived loss of productivity occurs from memory chunking? While I don't disagree that there is potential for this occur, students have no problem studying in one space, and taking a test in another space.
    I think that as well. People like auditors, or sales staff, don't really need the permanent space - if they are in the office more than on the road, its a problem. What is interesting though, is with cheaper lease rates, I think a few more companies might have second thoughts about downsizing to an open plan - the productivity loss may offset the lease saving.

  7. #7

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    One of my best work experiences was in a traditional office space.

    My own office was huge and way too big for my own needs but it worked as a breakout room for work tasks of four or five people. Most of the staff had walled offices too. Very, very little disrespectful talk even behind closed doors. It was all about fixing the problems, not the people. We used a large boardroom extensively for work and meetings.

    I quit that job to take one within an open office with an old metal desk (rounded corner type) with drawers that didn't open and two of those old freestanding cubical walls. This position was a decade long test in endurance and focus and avoiding and not engaging in negative people-orientated conversation always being spoken around me (plus lots of joking but often sarcastic corrosive jokes).

    The thing is, my experience is that quite ironically, open offices give the aggressive outspoken people (like a meeting where one person seeks dominance) have a captive audience, all within earshot and they slowly and carefully engage and escalate their negativity (thus building a team of followers and defenders and enabling bullying and politicing. Essentially working for themselves and not the whole company team).
    Last edited by KC; 17-01-2017 at 02:09 PM.

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