Hugh Pickens writes:
Lindsey Kaufman writes in the Washington Post that despite its obvious problems, the open-office model has continued to encroach on workers across the country with about 70 percent of US. offices having no or low partitions. Silcon Valley has led the way with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enlisting famed architect Frank Gehry to design the largest open floor plan in the world, housing nearly 3,000 engineers with a single room, stretching 10 acres, where everyone will sit in the open with moveable furniture. Michael Bloomberg was an early adopter of the open-space trend, saying it promoted transparency and fairness. Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn’t occupying billing hours. But according to Kaufman employers are getting a false sense of improved productivity with a 2013 study showing that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem for them and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy. The New Yorker, in a review of research on this nouveau workplace design, determined that the benefits in building camaraderie simply mask the negative effects on work performance. While employees feel like they’re part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction says Kaufman. "Though multitasking millennials seem to be more open to distraction as a workplace norm, the wholehearted embrace of open offices may be ingraining a cycle of under-performance in their generation," writes Maria Konnikova. "They enjoy, build, and proselytize for open offices, but may also suffer the most from them in the long run."
1. Management are too cheap to buy cubicles or offices.
2. Management believes that if they aren't able to see exactly what all their employees are doing at all times, the employees will slack off and they'll lose valuable time.
3. Nobody is thinking ahead.
Almost any other reason supplied is window dressing, because just about all research on the subject suggests private offices result in the best worker productivity, followed by relatively private cubicles.
Don't forget simple:
4) Primate dominance ritual
I've never seen an open office that doesn't have 89 billion class distinctions about who is worthy enough to reserve a conference room and basically take it over, who is worthy enough to have an actual cube, who is worthy enough to have an actual office. Usually strictly depends on management hierarchy rather than actual job needs. Its a brilliant beacon that management cares more about fighting internally to see who's worthy of slightly more or slightly less humane working conditions, than fighting external competitors.
Whenever management looks inwards, you as an employee must look outwards (to a new job). My advice as an old megacorporate minion is management by fad is signalling something important... its signalling they have no freaking idea what they're doing and you need to get out ASAP before the place collapses and the doors are chained shut one morning, or the place becomes a legendary resume stain. (Insert Arnie voice: Get to the choppa!)