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Old Posted Jan 22, 2015, 6:38 PM
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emathias emathias is offline
Adoptive Chicagoan
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
Posts: 4,987
Originally Posted by Hayward View Post
Yes, the open office plan doesn't work for all companies, especially places that deal with privacy. But it's striking a balance between well daylit environments, good airflow, and sound control. Being in a tall enclosure with low ceilings and static air isn't good for productivity either.

Not all studies cover the age of employees. I'm willing to bet the younger generations are more adapted to open offices. It's a generation that is wired to their phones listening to music. It's not hard to put up that psychological wall around you and stay focused.

A well designed office will supplement plenty of small enclosed conference rooms for employees to handle private conversations.

I'm willing to accept a diminishing trend when furniture manufactures dominate their product line with high wall office systems, but they aren't.
I'm 41, so not exactly the "younger generation," but I'm often more in line with the younger generation than people my age as far as preferences go.

I strongly prefer an open office plan. It's probably partly due to me working in the trading industry where that is pretty much the standard, but better air and light, easier identification of where people I need are, and easier for people who need me to find me all make it so much more efficient than high-wall cubes.

People talk about "distractions" and such, but the privacy of a high-walled cube also makes it easier for people to slack off, which, in my experience, more than offsets any improvement fewer distractions allow from an organization standpoint. And some "distractions" are actually beneficial to a business if they are keeping workers informed and working on the necessary parts of a project when they need to be. Isolation can make change harder simply because people are less aware of what others are doing.

This is going to sound bad, and I don't aim it any anyone in this thread, but it's also been my experience that the people who gripe the most about open plan offices are often the least-productive workers. The only real exception are people doing work that requires privacy, such as certain kinds of law, HR departments, executives, etc. And even then, in the case of executives when you're visible as an executive you can usually muster more out of your workers than you can if they never see you.

So, basically, better light, better air, and having actual line-of-sight of what your team is doing is a huge advantage that, in my experience, more than offsets the switching-costs of additional distractions and disruptions brought on by open-plan office layouts.
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