Business

The Open Office Concept Isn’t Working

The Open Office Concept Isn’t Working

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, goes the refrain. Only with the loss of partitioned offices are companies realizing the huge benefits of privacy and sound proof booths which offer personal space at work. The big movement towards open offices has reversed, and there is now an increasing number of companies and industry experts who have discovered that open offices don’t work.

The expected gains of open offices have not completely transpired. Communication can even be inhibited in an environment where every conversation is a distraction and every word can be heard by ears that it wasn’t meant for.

The Open Office Concept Isn't Working
The Open Office Concept Isn’t Working

This drive towards communal working has, in many offices, come at a cost to staff morale and performance. The lack of privacy and individual working spaces can have a detrimental affect on staff members’ ability to focus. Overall it has created a stressful and unproductive environment.

The cons of an open office space are manifold. Here are the details.

A Lack of Privacy

Open offices do not offer the privacy that traditional cubicle-based offices do. Employees regularly need to deal with sensitive information discreetly, assuring their customers or business partners the highest level of care and focus – which can be difficult with the distracting noise generated in open-plan offices.

Individual Performance Is Sacrificed

Offices are a place to think, be creative and be focused. But the constant noise of a busy work space can be too distracting to allow employees to be at their most productive. Many tasks that an employee will carry out on a daily basis will not require constant interaction, and in fact they would be better served doing most tasks in a quiet individual working unit.

Performance in General Suffers

To maximize staff performance and well-being, a working environment needs to find the right balance for all employees. Open-plan workplaces, where staff do not feel at ease, can make certain individuals feel alienated while lowering staff morale overall. Employee disenfranchisement results in a high turnover of staff and increased absenteeism, both of which will have a high cost to any business.

Pleasing Everyone

In open offices, all the staff are exposed to the same environmental conditions, whether that be light, temperature or noise level. Weight, gender and age can have a significant factor on how someone feels the cold, and finding a consensus on the right temperature can be very difficult to achieve. Disputes can occur as a result of a tug of war on the issues and staff morale can be negatively affected.

A Place to Speak Freely

Open offices don’t provide higher-level managers with a space to handle sensitive conversations. Employees need a place where they can speak freely and openly about work with their management, without the risk that their opinions will affect co-workers.

A Personal Space

Staff often benefit from a personalized environment, which best serves their working needs. In an open office, desks are rotated, and staff are discouraged from keeping the same work station. Much of an employee’s day is spent at work and their ability to individualize their cubicle can really help to make their environment more comfortable.

Unproductive Formations

In non-fixed seating plans, workers often choose to sit next to people that they would speak with ordinarily rather than who they need to communicate with on projects. Soon, cliques can develop based on where and who staff choose to sit with – and this further divides offices.

Management Burnout

More than any staff, managers are often heavily burdened with responsibility and need areas to think calmly. They can find that they are in constant demand in unpartitioned offices, and they are asked to help or find a solution to questions or disagreements that co-workers would normally solve themselves.

Breathing Space

Work can be stressful, and low morale in the office is often caused by disagreements and dissatisfaction with co-workers. Time and space are healers, and distance allows people to cool off and come together at a later date. However, with less privacy, conflicts can often become exacerbated and lead to breakdowns in interpersonal relations.

A Failed Model

The open office model has been far more complicated and has given more headaches than its creators conceived. The concept has failed its premise of improving communication, and at times, has even slowed it. It has proven to be too open to offer privacy and a favorable environment to work in. Businesses are waking up to this reality and making changes to their offices.

Summary
The Open Office Concept Isn't Working
Article Name
The Open Office Concept Isn't Working
Description
You don't know what you've got until it's gone, goes the refrain. Only with the loss of partitioned offices are companies realizing the huge benefits of privacy and sound proof booths which offer personal space at work. The big movement towards open offices has reversed, and there is now an increasing number of companies and industry experts who have discovered that open offices don't work.