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Ten Reasons People Hate Them!

It was once hailed as the answer to productivity prayers, but has the collaborative, inclusive, open plan office design finally run its course? It’s not difficult to find voices online with plenty to say on the subject. Here are some of the most commonly cited reasons why open plan offices are unpopular among the general workforce:

1: It’s NOISY

Collaboration as a concept it great, but try concentrating when you are sitting next to a group having an animated discussion, and your work is likely to suffer. Workers say that the hubbub of noise and the hum of electronic devices make it hard to concentrate.

2: You’re too available

Making eye contact with anyone seems to give off a signal that you have the time and inclination to chat. It’s impossible to avoid looking at colleagues in an open-plan office and many workers end up distracted from work by being too polite to tell someone they are too busy to talk.

3: Privacy is limited

Or non-existent! We all need a little personal space from time to time, but in an open-plan office your every move is on show. Even making a quick personal ‘phone call is almost impossible. You may as well put the call on speakerphone and invite everyone to join in.

4: There are constant distractions

Work patterns vary between colleagues and their job roles. No-one can work solidly all day, so when a co-worker reaches a natural break point they become a distraction for those still mid-task. Anyone for a cuppa? Fag-break? Time to talk through this burning issue of mine (not yours)?

5: Antisocial behaviour is impossible

We’re not talking about the type of behaviour that warrants an ASBO here, but rather those moments we all have from time to time where we simply want to be left alone. Ignoring colleagues can win you a reputation as aloof, negative, and someone who has poor communication skills, when if actual fact all you want is a bit of space.

open plan offices

6: Monitor Glancing is unavoidable

Computer screens glow.  If they didn’t they would be pretty useless really, but this gentle light attracts the eye like no other. Any page up on your monitor winks at your colleagues and is there for everyone to see. Indulge in a quick lunchtime shopping spree online, or dip into social media, and the whole office knows about it.

7: Uncontained Aromas

Food, perfume, and all manner of bodily aromas all blend to make the exotic mix that is unmistakeably “Eau d’Open Plan”. Food is one of the worst culprits, as the smells from snacks seem to permeate the very fabric of the room.

8: Headphones defeat the object

If open-plan working was supposed to promote collaboration, how do headphones fit in with that? Fine if they are a part of your job, but take them off for a moment and you find yourself surrounded by colleagues speaking over-loudly and tap-tapping away manically on their keyboards. Not a bit of collaboration in sight.

9: Your workspace is communal

I have the pleasure of working at home, and my desk is surrounded by pictures my children have drawn, and comfortable piles of files that I will get to one day – when I’m ready. In an open-plan office the workspaces and rows are generic, and offer little space for any personal items that make workers feel individual and special. Having had this experience, I know how fortunate I am in my current work environment.

10: To combat 1 to 9 above you have to put in extra hours !?

Arriving early, or leaving late can often be the only way for workers to find the peace and space many crave. How can that be productive? Bring back offices, or at least the cubicle. Open-plan offices are no longer working!




About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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