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."
I find that there are a few booleans that must be set to certain values for a person to be someone that I'd fundamentally dislike before I really even have the chance to "know" them. Enjoyment of that site is now another one on the list.
About six months ago, my company went to the "open office". We went from nice 6'x4' or so cubicles to a seat along a bench with about 2 cubic feet of storage and a desk smaller than I have at home. The lighting is stark bright, and I have no ability to tack diagrams or the like up on the walls anymore. I sit about 18 inches from the guy on my right, and so close to the guy behind me that he and I can't roll both our chairs back at the same time if we wanted to.
Overall, people have just gotten bitterer and more angry about their jobs. One guy is constantly tense and yells at people once a week or so. Other people are looking for new jobs. The noise doesn't get to me because I listen to punk at max volume all day long. The harsh full-bright LED lighting and the fact that someone can walk up behind you at any time does though. I liked the company and thought we were above brain-dead management fads, but apparently I was wrong. Right now I spend a lot of time trying to decide if it's pissing me off enough to leave.
What kind of work is it? (I'm trying to imagine any kind of work where that situation wouldn't be obviously catastrophic.)
That's the best part: It depends, and there's no method of organization to that extent.
I do dev work, and so does anyone behind me. The guys who sit on the other side of me do data center ops or something. They're on conference calls literally all day, and I make out bits and pieces about change requests and network settings and the like, so that's what I assume anyway. But it's not very fun trying to be focused in on something, and have people around you constantly talking, even when it's "approved" talk, and not just bullshitting.
Yeacchhhh. You have my enormous sympathies.
Get a new job. The one you have sucks. They don't deserve you.