Open plan offices can make you MISERABLE: Seeing colleagues all day leads to distraction and irritation, say scientists.

Open plan offices can make you MISERABLE: Seeing colleagues all day leads to distraction and irritation, say scientists

Researchers from CTF, Service Research Centre at Karlstad University in Sweden have found that open plan offices are counter-productive and bad for staff morale (stock).

The article.

Do you agree?

I know that I do not like open plan office and they make me miserable.

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  • It all depends on the measuring stick being used.

    If the only thing being measured is how many staff can be crammed in per square metre, then open plan offices are wonderful things. The same logic applies if the same thing is being measured by proxy, such as minimising headline costs for housing a staff of a given size.

    Similarly, if you are the sort of manager who gets a kick from being able to sit at one end of the office and be master of all you survey, you are just going to love open-plan!

    If an organisation believes that "backsides on seats" is what matters (rather than whether or not the corresponding craniums are actively engaged in the affairs of the business), again, an office layout which enables someone to spot "empty seats" and advance a culture of fear is going to win friends amongst the management hierarchy.

    However, if a business is attempting to maximise output from a given workforce whilst keeping costs as low as possible, it is better to give each workgroup their own room with a door they can close, and walls they can cover with pictures and other information. This is because team working typically requires that a team is sometimes noisy, and at other times needs absolute quiet for intense concentration. Clearly, an open-plan office fails to meet this need - just imagine Team 1 trying to work quietly whilst Team 2 are having an animated discussion about the best way to do something. 

    The fundamental fallacy here is that far too many businesses equate "everyone being frantically busy" with business efficiency and maximal output. Unfortunately, such thinking is woefully mistaken. Improved efficiency actually comes about from measuring and then working to minimise the length of time between the business deciding to do a thing, and the consequential arrival of hard currency in exchange for that product or service.

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