Open office spaces promise new levels of productivity and workplace functionality. For some people this is the case, without a doubt. However, the benefits of open office workspaces are not universal by any means.
The philosophy behind open office designs is that employees will be happier and more productive if they aren’t separated by office walls and closed off from one another. The only problem, according to Co.Exist, is the fact that they aren’t.
What’s the Problem With Open Work Spaces?
Like many things in life, in a perfect world, it’s a great idea. In the real world, people have bad days. The problems below are a few critical issues that open office space reveals.
People Come to Work Sick
While it’s not always wise. It is what it is. Most people would rather go to work while sick and use their paid time off for more pleasurable pursuits. When offices and doors are involved, sick employees can go into their offices and be productive while limiting, to some degree, the spreading of their germs. In open concept offices, however, the germs are spread far and wide with every sneeze, cough, and exhalation of air. It becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
From a business perspective, this can result in greater absenteeism as more employees take time off to recover from illnesses the open office concept exposed them to. The other side of that coin is less productivity as many workers are working while sick, and not at 100 percent, and spreading their germs to others who may follow suit.
People Find the Constant Noise Distracting
There are no walls or doors in open concept offices. In traditional offices, walls and doors serve to keep noise and other distractions out of the office. This means that when crunch time arrives and you need to focus, you’re not distracted by the guy telling jokes two desks over or someones phone conversation that really should be made in private, or the continuous cacophony of sound that runs through the office all day like an unending film soundtrack. For some people, this constant noise pollution is not only counterproductive, it’s also completely maddening.
People Need Privacy
It really is as simple as that. Employees need privacy too. But, it’s not all about allowing employees opportunities to have a moment or two of their day away from the prying eyes of others. It’s also about giving your customers and clients, and their personal, private information the discretion it deserves.
Some industries, are simply not conducive to open office spaces because of the type of information the industries handle. It’s impossible to be discreet when you’re surrounded by ears and eyes.
Open office spaces simply do not work for all employees — especially those who need a quiet place where they can clear their minds and focus on the work at hand. The concept remains lovely, but the reality, for many businesses, is anything but lovely.