The 7 reasons people really hate open plan offices.

Open plan, open shmam?

When they first came on the scene it was with much hype around their benefits of improved collaboration and communication, better creativity and innovation, increased accountability and transparency and overall efficiency.

And it turns out that was all a bit of BS.

Half a century later, none of those promised benefits have come true and in fact, studies have shown the exact opposite affect.

In a recent review, The New Yorker determined that the ‘benefits of building camaraderie only masks the negative effects on work performance’.

While we might feel like we’re part of a laid-back, creative enterprise — ultimately the open-plan is damaging workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, satisfaction and health.

And given that 70% of all offices are now open-plan there’s probably a lot of people that will relate to this list.

1. You can’t focus on a task for more than 3 minutes.

Oh what’s that you’ve got your earphones in and you’re typing furiously? That MUST mean you’re in the mood for general chit chat. Forget about emailing your colleague about a problem, why not lean over and interrupt their work to get it sorted.

2. Someone else is always having more fun than you are.

FOMO is a serious issue for open-plan offices, if you hear one end of the office laughing you have to investigate immediately. Ditto delicious lunch smells.

Deadline schmedline.

3. Noise + work =¯\_(ツ)_/¯..

Dear God it is LOUD. The talking, the laughing, the typing, the chewing of apples – it’s just too much sometimes.

Research shows that in laboratory settings, noise has been consistently tied to reduced cognitive performance. But even jamming your noise cancelling earphones in won’t help. Listening to your own music has the effect as office commotion in impairing workers ability to recall information and even do basic arithmetic.



4. Nose picking is not an option.

That quick check on Facebook will be seen by at least four of your colleagues (and most likely a manager) and it feels like your bathroom trips are being monitored (and judged).

Studies have shown that a sense of privacy boosts job performance, while the opposite can cause feelings of helplessness.

5. Nothing belongs to you anymore.

Your belongings are unequivocally communal. Tissues, post-it notes and pens — what’s yours is apparently everyone’s in the company.

6. No such thing as personal space.

There is no such thing as personal space in an open-plan office. And sharing a desk with 10 other employees means that stuff kind of, migrates… You might start off with an impeccably organised working area but soon enough your neighbours dirty coffee cups and stacks of paperwork begin to encroach.

7. One sneeze and the entire office is out for days.

The New Yorker cites a recent study of 2400 employees in Denmark that found, “As the number of people working in a single room went up, the number of employees who took sick leave increased apace.”

Yeah, duh. Open-plan offices are a cess pool of germs.


So it’s time to jump onto the next work-related bandwagon, guys.

Let’s all work from home.


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