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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31 2014, @11:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31 2014, @11:23AM (#130486)

    For years I tolerated a six figure paid asshole constantly talking socialising and avoiding work. At least some times he talked loudly in other bays. I worked hard even so far as doing his work.

    Then they spent million "upgrading" the building. All of the bays were ripped out to be replaced with colorful low partition desks. Senior managers kept their offices.

    Productivity took a nosedive. Moral went out the window. Software releases slowed. Talking and socialising increased. People left. Hundreds.

    The asshole who used to just be a PITA turned into a rampaging offensive sociopath. His favorite activity was to stand next to someone's desk for hours talking. Mine usually. He managed to drive one person to complete distraction.

    With the new low partitions it was hell. A contractor quit rather than work near him. Three permanent staff left. No one wants to work near him. Management do nothing.

    This open plan theory is complete bullshit. How anyone can work with sound bouncing across the floors I don't know.

    Recently our pay was tied to Productivity Gains. What utter crap. The best way to improve productivity would be to bring back partitioned bays.

    I am distracted every time someone walks past my bays or laughs their head off. About every two minutes.