The new trend in the tech industry is to get rid of all cubicle walls and offices to jam everyone together into one big room. This way we can have the maximum number of loud conversations going on at one time. Instead of having a nice half wall and 5-10 feet between employees, we now have 3 feet max and our desks bump into each other.
Personally, I find it really annoying.
Working in this kind of workspace is like being in a crowded bar. There’s a constant conversation going on somewhere. People continuously talk a big louder to hear each other. Once you get three to four conversations going on it’s basically just people yelling at each other to “collaborate”.
Fans of this work style say that it’s a great way to increase collaboration among teams. They want to get people working together and talking about all things work. Well this doesn’t really happen. Most of the conversations I overhear throughout the day are about people’s kids, their weekend or where they are going to eat later.
The constant noise is a major distraction to most people. The main way to counteract the distraction is to wear noise cancelling headphones. This helps a bit, but also kills any actual collaboration that was possible. So now you have half of the office yammering on about what their kids did this weekend and the other half blasting music to drone it all out. How is this a good thing?
Open-Offices are a total productivity suck. You spend more time being annoyed with other people than getting work done. The noise is a constant distraction. Even the important work conversations that do happen are random and frequent enough to be a distraction on top of it. I honestly think that working in these types of environments cuts productivity by 50%. And then you wonder why people complain about working such long hours… They have to stay late to make up for all the work they didn’t do during the day.
The real reason we have these plans is to save money. All corporate real estate is paid for on a dollar per square foot basis. If you can fit more people into the same square footage, you can save a ton of money.
The only redeeming factor about the open workplace is that they can come along with stand up desks. Which is a nice perk, but do we really need to stand 3 feet from each other?