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posted by n1 on Wednesday December 31 2014, @01:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-hear-myself-think dept.

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."

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  • (Score: 2) by TheGratefulNet on Wednesday December 31 2014, @03:31AM

    by TheGratefulNet (659) on Wednesday December 31 2014, @03:31AM (#130441)

    I'm a bay area guy and have been for at least 25 years, now. I'm working at cisco these days and cisco is converting to 'open offices'. they seem to have drunk the koolaid and they are changing their offices, building by building. I HATE IT.

    my last job was an open office. no one I talked to liked it. HR said everyone would apapt. we adapted by working from home more, not being able to have any privacy at all at work meant we had to do things we should do during the day, some other time. this costed work-day time loss, not gain!

    conference room use went up a lot and it was soon hard to even GET a room, they were always in use. this is proof that people NEED their own space to get personal shit done, in today's world.

    the noise was horrible. people got sick from each other (coughs, sneezing).

    overall, it was a full failure. but HR still would never admit they were wrong.

    like ceo's and presidents, HR never will admit they made a bone-head decision. they think it saves money, somehow. and bosses love to 'see' that you are working. but for us workers, its ONLY a step backward with nothing to benefit anyone in the working trenches.

    just more dehumanization from an already non-caring corporate-controlled world ;(

    "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
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  • (Score: 2) by jbWolf on Wednesday December 31 2014, @07:35AM

    by jbWolf (2774) <reversethis-{moc.flow-bj} {ta} {bj}> on Wednesday December 31 2014, @07:35AM (#130465) Homepage

    overall, it was a full failure. but HR still would never admit they were wrong.

    I'm sure HR and the big bosses are also on the floor too, eh? If they're not, maybe you should encourage them to join you on the floor if it's so productive. ;)

    Actually, that brings up a question in my mind. I've never had the luck to work in an open office before, but I sometimes had to work on private things for HR via my work computer -- things dealing with salary or (supposedly) anonymous surveys. How does that work in an open office? How does one keep these things private? It was hard enough in a cubicle.

    -- []
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31 2014, @03:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31 2014, @03:30PM (#130537)

      maybe you should encourage them to join you on the floor if it's so productive. ;)

      If only it were that easy. Us workers were moved to the open-office layout, my manager went from an office down to a cube, and director level and above retained their offices. The CIO even had the balls to send out an email telling us "the open floor plan is not a downgrade" - if it's not a downgrade why does he have to convince anybody? I suppose it's OK as long as I keep getting paid...posting as AC for safety FTW