Report: U.S. workers hate ‘open’ office spaces

Before you go knocking walls down or dismantling cubicles in the name of collaboration and productivity, peruse the results of this new survey.

Would you change jobs to find a less annoying workspace?

According to survey data collected by Bospar PR, it would appear many of us would—especially those toiling in an “open” office setting.

The survey, which garnered responses from a diverse cross-section of 1,000 U.S. workers, found that 76 percent of Americans “hate open offices.” The top reasons cited included:

  • Lack of privacy (43 percent)
  • Overhearing too many personal conversations (34 percent)
  • Cannot concentrate (29 percent)
  • Worries that sensitive information can be leaked (23 percent)
  • Can’t do their best thinking (21 percent)

Despite a recent trend of employers tinkering with barrier-free offices, community benches and desk clumps, the science is not sanguine about open workspace productivity. Some have even called such layouts a “disaster.”

What is it workers want, then? Eighty-four percent of Bospar’s respondents said working from home would be ideal. Nearly 60 percent cited “not having to commute” as a top reason for wanting to work remotely, and 41 percent indicated that they’d be more productive working from home. Thirty-five percent said that remote work would enable them to produce more “thoughtful” output.

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As Bospar executive Curtis Sparrer put it: “An overwhelming majority of Americans want to work in quiet places, but they can’t do that in today’s open office environments.”

Workplace environment appears to be a hill that many employees are willing to die on—or at least take a pay cut over. According to the survey, “Eighteen percent would pursue a new job to have a workspace they like better, and 9 percent would petition to work part-time in an environment they do like.”

Amid the clamor for more collaboration, connectivity, corporate camaraderie and increased participation, companies are inevitably alienating some workers. Most, it would seem, would prefer to work in a quiet, non-distracting atmosphere. That might be the most universally desired and appreciated work perk of all.

You can learn more about Bospar’s research here.

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80 Responses to “Report: U.S. workers hate ‘open’ office spaces”


    They don’t do it for collaboration. They do it to cram more people in a tiny space and save on real estate!

    Didn’t we already have special rooms, like conference rooms for collaboration?

    We actually collaborate even less than before. People are always sick and missing work for all kind of reasons.

    Steve Mills says:

    I have to agree with the previous poster. Employers say they do for collaboration. This is complete BS! They do it so they can cram more people into a small space. I worked in an open office space previously and it was horrible. No privacy, too much noise so I couldn’t concentrate, etc. I don’t want to look up and see someone staring at me the whole time. THEY DON’T WORK!

    Someone says:

    It seems pretty obvious that companies do this primarily to save money. In places I’ve worked with open plans, the justification of collaboration was not believable because management was not doing anything else to promote collaboration. So their credibility was pretty low IMO.

    Anonymous says:

    Cube farms aren’t much better. I could hear everything going on in all the cubicles 4-5 cubes on any side of me. It was impossible to hear my own conversations. It was impossible to have private conversations (and this was HR). And it was impossible to think with all the noise.

    Paul Infantino says:

    I try to read and write technical documents, and all I hear are people socializing, and I work in cubes. I have to reread the same paragraph several times. I understand coworker rapport, but keep it quick and use your church voice, please. It’s my nuber 1 issue, and it affects my productivity.

    Linda Blocksom says:

    I really enjoy our open office environment, and I do find that opportunities to collaborate and bounce ideas off my teammates to be very helpful. We also have the ability to work from home, so when I really need to concentrate or am working on something confidential, I do it there.

    Agile says:

    Fully open work spaces are definitely not ideal, but then, neither are full cube farms. Workspaces need to be designed around the intended purpose of the space and the nature of the workers. There’s no rule that says a space can only be open or only be private. There are definitely use cases where open spaces are beneficial… for example, Agile studios. Typically you’d associate Agile studios with IT Development groups, but other non-IT functions are starting to look at the value of Agile methods as a way to increase productivity and improve focus on the work at hand. Designed correctly, a workspace and contain the best of both collaborative and private spaces, and meet the needs of the highest percentage of workers… and still meet today’s more aggressive occupancy goals.

    Bob says:

    Seems only people 45+ are commenting on here and complaining. Personally, I much prefer open space over bureaucracy-ridden, gray and old school offices with the short-sleeved dress shirts and oversized glasses. Get with the times people!

    Jessica says:

    I never thought I would miss a cubicle until they put me in a SMALL open space. There is nowhere to put all my stuff, the space is terrible ergonomically because it’s too small to sit and write and fit my computer. I have to listen to an awful guy all day. JUST LET ME WORK FROM HOME PLEASE.

    Jimbo says:

    I’ve been working in an open space for two years. I don’t like it. As a supervisor, I occasionally need a private one-on-one with my people, or even just quick feedback, and it’s very difficult. Engineers, supervisors, & managers have no assigned desks, so management typically commandeers the small conference rooms as their office. Our function requires very little collaboration. No secret for the move to an open space — there are only enough desks for 75% of us. The company is counting on business travel to open up enough desks. It would be a big improvement if some sound-absorbing walls could divide up the open space into smaller sections. Sick days: Never took one in 20 years until we moved in here. Now I’m home sick 3-5 days per year. I don’t work better at home — help!

    J. B. says:

    I work in corporate leasing. Yes it’s real purpose is to save money. Yes we know workers will get sick more often. Yes we know it’s noisier, less private and more distracting. It may reduce productivity. These are called soft costs. But the reductions in square footage in major cities saves millions.

    Stafford "Doc" Williamson says:

    A “dress code” can be stifling, but it also promotes a sense of belonging and teamwork. A team might, for instance, choose Thursday as “green shirt” day but not include green shirts at all the next week. School uniforms promote better students. Wouldn’t it be likely that a similar environment at work even if it was short-sleeved dress shirts could be a work environment that meant solidarity not an ever-escalating was of best tennis shoes and grubby T-shirts? And that is not to mention that inside the company or out for a business meeting, the company is known as a disciplined place of work not the place with the most ripped jeans.

    As to cubicles, I’ve worked in those (and got myself promoted to where I had my own supervisor’s office)_ There was a point to those cubbies. The team leader was close enough to heat a team member getting into trouble on the phone with a customer. With the team leader in a central position, the reach of her hearing was important as a part of assuring customers got the best possible service when contacting the company for help,. A not-so-real-estate-friendly arrangement would have been to have the cubicles arranged as two semi-circles such that the team leader would be closer to even the furthest cubicle. Using a soft, gentle, reassuring voice is always the best way to represent your self and your company to the world and to your co-workers.

    Too much of the parts that were working went out the window in the name of saving on floor space, but solutions that work for the workers are far more productive than places the workers would rather avoid. That makes for longer coffee breaks, slow return from lunch, and even more chit-chat and a slower pace returning from meetings. It would be interesting to see a survey of just how much people care about wearing a sweatshirt versus a short sleeved dress shirt in overall satisfaction, or accepting a job offer where those are the choices. Wouldn’t it?

    Scott says:

    I would say to this article that the designers did a poor job. Having worked in designing collaborative spaces, I have seen it where employees love it. Design is the key to success.

    Catherine says:

    Wow, Bob — short sleeves and big rimmed glasses = old people? You forgot about the smoke-filled offices, Bob. Let’s get this straight: whatever works best for the type of business you are in is what your management should have determined for the office set-up and not something just to “keep up with the Jones'” . Cubes, open space, individual offices — a little of each sounds like a good mix for any company. Add conference rooms for meetings and you should be good to go.

    Sarah says:

    I’ll throw in for the sub-45 crowd then in opposition to this (I’m 34). My company is slowly transitioning to this across the board, and my division is getting hit next. We are client-facing teams who sometimes spend literally ALL DAY on the phone holding meetings with clients, and we’re going to be stuck either a) dealing with the office at the constant volume of a dull roar when we’re all on the phone in close proximity (sometimes even with cubes today it’s too loud), and/or b) being closed up in tiny “conversation rooms” for hours that are standing rooms for 1-2 people where you’re supposed to have meetings. They’re also taking away all WFH privileges. I’m a manager with 9 staff members and I’m sure that if they haven’t been looking around for new jobs yet, this will prompt them to start.

    Anonymous says:

    This trend is about transparency (spying on your workforce). As a designer, the CEO’s comment against recommendations to not implement the open workspace was “transparency is the theme”. At the same time, executives still got offices. They did not model the practice they expected of their workforce. Cost has some thought in it but it really doesn’t cost more than cubicles.

    Think of the timeline correlaltion between mobile devices and “open workspaces”; they are worried you’re not working and not only can they watch you but so can your coworkers….

    The “money” portion comes in here; all of the “studies” supporting workspace conversions were done or funded by office furniture companies.

    Checkout Harvard Business Review – “The Transparency Trap”.

    Tristan says:

    Reading all this, I realize I’ve spent decades working in open office environments, in both engineering offices and design studios. Especially in design studios where collaboration and banter make for a very productive and pleasant working environment no matter what your pay grade. But things have changed over time. There is a trend to less job security, a secure long-term job is hard to come by. The consequence is there is a corresponding trend to increased job ‘protectionism’, or anti-collaboration – trying to make oneself indispensable by being the only person that has knowledge of certain processes, etc., so the talking up of collaboration by management/HR is not achieving anything. Then squeeze bodies side-by-side at a long table to save on overheads and you create a really uncomfortable work space – no wonder people would like to spend more time working from home.

    Lynne says:

    Our company has always had an office (with a door that closes) for each employee. We have been in the software development business for over 32 years and think that the ability for software developers to create complex software requires an environment where they can think without being distracted by cubical chat. Also, the offices for everyone are basically the same size regardless of the person’s position in the company. We also have many conference rooms for collaboration so our development teams can be productive together when they need to be, and they can go to their offices when they need to be there. We are all in this business together.

    Billy Sands says:

    Open space offices are the worst…instead of an active and collaborative work space, they actually encourage a dystopian atmosphere where everyone is looking over your shoulder, everyone heads down and hovering over the screens. We went to this design last year and all I see is everyone shuttling off to closed spaces, the 32 inch monitors are shut off so people can work and cover up their tiny laptop screen. Whenever people are around me, I immediately want to get up and just go out of the office so I can have privacy. I suspect open offices will disappear, I have yet to meet anyone who likes it.

    Barbara R Saunders says:

    When a company I worked for announced a move from a funky warehouse space to a nicer building, several workers responded with “If this means we have to dress up, I’m quitting!”

    “Green shirt day”promotes teamwork in a middle school. For adults, it’s silly.

    Someone else in dallas says:

    I was around when it started, in a big way in the 90s. I really don’t think the initial motivation was cost savings. In fact during those times the big problem was lack of collaboration – so this was attempt to solve.

    Can’t say the intent now, but I do feel collaboration is still a primary goal. That said, there does need to be re-vamping, there needs to be plenty of ample private space available, and you can mix it with semi-public and then public based on patterns – doesn’t seem to hard.

    Tapas Chandra says:

    Employers do it for only one and one reason – save on real estate and infrastructure. OPEN SPACE DOESN’T WORK PERIOD! There is too much of distraction. It definitely drives down the productivity of the employees. Collaboration can be achieved in a different fashion.

    Cliff says:

    If collaboration is such an incredible thing, why are bosses surrounded by walls, with close leaders doors? Why aren’t they in the mix, with Private Rooms, for when they need some confidentiality? It’s because they hate being in open spaces, too.

    Betty Couture says:

    They tried this in the late 1970’s with open concept high schools. I went to one. It was very distracting. I am not sure what happened to that idea but I can imagine. Did anyone else attend an open concept high school? Similar idea to the open office space. It seems like a good idea and looks really cool but has many drawbacks.

    Lynda says:

    I remember working in what was essentially open in the 70s, so it’s just coming around again.

    Then the cubes came and really didn’t care much for them, although they offer a little bit more privacy, but you could still hear conversations next door.

    Companies save a lot of money by not having assigned seating, we sit mostly on our neighborhoods so we do seem collaborate more. Everyone sits in open space, even our CEO but there are enclaves and conference rooms, and assigned enclaves or small conf rooms at very senior levels, but almost everyone is out in open space unless they’re in meetings or need quiet time.

    We have other places as well, a central area with some booths and soft seating as well as outdoor spaces. Does everyone love it? Probably not, but I think most like the flexibility to move around if they need a change of scenery and we have the opportunity to work from home in most groups. Overall, I like it (and I’m way over 45!)

    Lawrence says:

    > Bob says: February 11, 2019 at 4:35 pm
    >Seems only people 45+

    I totally agree with Bob. I am 50+ so GET OFF MY LAWN!

    Connie Benham says:

    I had semi cubicles at Dell, it was difficult to concentrate and hear my clients over the phone but I enjoyed the capibility to talk with other techs about what issues we were encountering and the different solutions we had come up with. It was a wonderful colaboration.

    The bank I worked for had complete open space, I did not feel comfortable because sensitive information in conversations was not protected and interruptions were constant when trying to complete projects or paperwork.

    At the Unversity where I worked in Information Technology most of the department supervisors had private offices and the rest of us were left to our own devices in open areas. After a year of being allowed to organize our own desks I noticed that everyone had put particians between their desks in order to concentrate on what they were doing but there was also a place to come together to discuss issues and create solutions.

    Tony says:

    An open space working environment will work with a significant amount of planning that must include the team or staff that will work in this environment. Team collaboration is critical as well in depth process mapping of what the team or department is working on or responsible for. Is the team more adminstative 70-80% of the day with limited customer interractions phone or face to face then an open environment works well? Have you considered certain members of the team are on the phone or are in face to face discussions a large percentage of the day then a dedicated area should be set up to buffer the noise and distractions..
    Consideraing all aspects of the area if there are multiple teams that work on or are responsible for different aspects factor that into the process.
    Number #1 on this list is effective space planning and the incorporation of ergonic furniture , tools including the correct monitor sizes and numbers, good equipment copy machine with multiple functions, document scanners, good software. Power sources needed for the equipment to be utilized, where are the locations floor, walls, data lines or wifi or wireless, laptops of full PC towers.
    Is a projector or screen needed how about a large LCD monitor for projecting from a lap top where the room can be utilized as meeting location in the same department with the team versus having to book another space .
    I do not agree with the use of cube farms; and open layout concept will drive the right culture of getting the job done as a team . Also with good space planning the open layout also allows for good air and heat circulation in smaller areas verus cube or office walls blocking the circulation.
    With effective space planning you can incorporate the teams input so they can operate in a cohesive manner as the open environment allows for great discussions, colloaration, new ideas etc.
    My area is operating in this mode nad has been for 5 years, I did the space planning while the room was being constructed so I had a direct envolvement in the creation and many adjustments since then.

    Rosanna says:

    Wow 84% of respondents say working at home would be ideal. I’m pretty sure companies got more out of me when I worked at home. Doing tech support in an “open office” arrangement was just way too noisy. Granted, it takes really good collaboration tools to help virtualized teams succeed. Please can Marissa Mayer’s push away from telecommuting go back in the trash.. I blame her for the anti-remote worker binge currently in vogue..

    Terry says:

    Its about disrespecting your employees. I was around at a big blue company when they ripped out 100s of traditional offices and replaced them with “open landscape” offices. Overnight, we had twice as many cars in the parking lots as they filled up 2x the spaces in open landscape as they did with regular offices. Surprise surprise! Not enough parking. The solution? Hand out tickets to employees for parking anywhere they could find some open space. Once you get into the new space, the solution to the noise problem? Pump white noise through all of the spaces so the only thing you hear is a constant roar in your ears. In less than a month, all of these problems started to go away as noone, and I mean NOONE, wanted to put up with this crap and we all started finding reasons why we needed to work from home. The cafeteria had to curtail their hours because not enough people were in the office to support it. Even less of a reason to put up with the crappy work environment. Through all of this management maintained that open landscape was an unqualified success. Yeah right….

    Cubes R Bad 2 says:

    I’ve had an office that I practically lived in, I’ve had 2 offices I shared with 2 other folks, I’ve had an office I spent about .01% of my employed time in (the rest in a lab), I’ve had cubicles, a cubicle with a door, a 2-person almost-cubicle, a single person almost-cubicle, 2-walled corner “cubicles”, and an open office desk.

    For everything but the offices I’ve needed heavy duty headphones due to my ADD. But the open office? Forget it. Work was dismal at best, due to everything distracting my eyes. Me: “I need to work.” ADD: “Yeah, but did you see that flicker of movement WAY off to the left? Oh, and there’s another one out of the corner of your other eye! Check that out!”

    The reason they gave for the open office? We’re “agile”. *facepalm*

    George Haeh says:

    One employer went from single person cubicles to two person cubicles and this tech who had to spend most of the day deep in code was paired with a talkative, interrupting social butterfly.

    Basically one employee for the price of two.

    Bembjaminbmn says:

    Not sure where that Bob guy got his 45+ idea from. I’m 29 and I’d quit a job over an open office. I’m a project manager with an in-demand skillset and I would rather start my tenure over somewhere new than deal with that garbage. Might actually have to do that in about two years, as we’re constructing a new building and so far all indications are that it’ll be “open”.

    Tmckeck says:

    I think the best combination is the open office with the flexibility to work from home. This way when you need to wok on something confidential or require more quiet space you have the option. Our office is open with many ares that people can go work quietly away from the open area.

    Alan says:

    I claim something slightly different in an old article of mine.

    The problem is not the open office per se. It’s the RIDICOUSLY CRAMMED open office, where too many people sit too close. It’s the MIXED JOB open office, where salesman sit too close to software developers.

    So yes, the problem is that they’re trying to cram too many people in too little space. And I don’t buy the “expensive real estate” bullshit: while real estate is expensive, specialized workforce in large cities is even more expensive. Why would you make them less productive?

    my article:

    Rose says:

    All you need in an open floor plan is one loud person and you can hear them 5 aisles away. The one indication that confirms an open floor plan doesn’t work, is that all the executives have their own office and are not part of the open floor plan.

    Ravan says:

    I left two different jobs because they went open plan. I never thought I would be nostalgic for a cubical, but here I am. My current gig is moving me, again, from a shared office with a door to another $^#$^#$^#$^ open plan with my back to a conference room entrance.

    You can bet I am looking. I had taken a pay cut to get the office with a door. If I have to work in an unproductive, maddening fishbowl open plan, I want to be paid well for the years it takes off of my life.

    There are three types of people I’ve noticed who like open plan offices:

    1. Managers – they like to “see” their minions being busy. Call it “presence oriented management” (aka “butts in seats” school of management) as opposed to “results oriented management”.

    2. Extroverts – they derive energy from being around others, collaborating, yakking, disturbing all the miserable introverts. They are born this way, they can’t help it, but they make introverts miserable in an open plan.

    3. Flakes – yes, flakes. They like to be able to talk to everyone else instead of doing actual sit down work. Never mind that they interrupt others, they will extol their ideas, their personal trivia, the latest sportsball scores or whatever to avoid actually working. Open plans encourage this.

    Open plans are bad for people with certain disabilities, like PTSD, autism spectrum, ADD/ADHD, TBI/MBI, etc. There is no accommodation other than an office or WFH (headphones don’t solve the problem, they are just a slight mitigation that causes other problems.)

    They are all about cheaping out on real estate and losing 25% to 50% productivity (which wipes out the real estate savings.) But the bean counters never account for those productivity and increased sick time (60% increase by one study) losses, because they can’t seem to measure them.

    Hannah says:

    I’m leaving my job of over 5 years because the open workspace is unbearable. I don’t know how I’ve lasted this long. Not only can we hear each other’s work-related conversation, we hear everyone’s personal chit chat. This open workspace encourages people to waste time. I can’t hardly concentrate. Staying late or working from home are the only times I can truly be 100% productive. It’s so very distracting, I never want to work in this kind of space again. My coworkers all agree. Nobody here likes it. I can’t get out of here fast enough. And no, I’m not old, I’m under 35.

    Nicole says:

    I was part of a company’s switch to open plan. Many people were very upset. However, after a month or two in the space those that were the most vocal about it turned around and shared they were actually pleasantly surprised at how well they were doing.

    Design is essential in open plan and I personally felt it was done well in our situation. Departments were separated by banks of meeting rooms that ranged from individual to those that could hold 20+. This was a huge plus as prior to the change there were only 20 meeting rooms as cubes take up a ton of square footage. When the project was done there were 285! We also created a “library” that was a quiet space, no talking and no phones, that offered a few different seating options. This allowed those needing quiet space the ability to have it.

    The other key design element was no office’s, for anyone! Even the CEO was out amongst their team! Meeting spaces had reservation limits so people couldn’t try to turn them into their offices. It’s done wonders for manager/employee relationships.

    I personally ended up liking it more than I thought I would and now find cubes suffocating and segregating. I also feel cubes give people a false sense of privacy, they dont realize their voices actually carry up and out. People also then can’t see if someone is on a call or video conference so they tend to not care how loud they are. In an open plan a person’s volume level seems to auto adjust as they’re aware of their surroundings which then benefits everyone.

    There’s never going to be the perfect solution as were not all the same. Varying work habits just need to be kept in mind and companies need to be flexible. Offer a day or two of work from home to balance the open plan and it may go a long way in employee satisfaction.

    Jorge Morales says:

    In our market of South Florida, the appeal to open plan and more collaborative workspace is driven by cost effective space. We’ve seen corporate tenants downsize their space requirement while maintaining the same workforce. I concur with the article that this is not a sustainable model to keep top talent. However, I expect that this trend is here to stay as the Great Recession turned the mindset of many occupiers of space.

    twm says:

    Guess what.

    Some people are OK with it and they’ll talk about how they like it. These people are extroverts.

    Unfortunately, extroverts have absolutely no empathy for introverts who find things like open-space a horror.

    I’m luck that I spend the bulk and formative years of my job in a nice private office being productive, getting raises, etc. Now, I’m in open space and can barely string together a thought before it gets interrupted but someone or something. Often, a nice wet sneeze. Good times.

    Susan says:

    After 5 years I still find the open floor plan to be mostly too distracting and loud. It works under certain cultures and job functions. When our company implemented this, they had boasted of providing many extra semiprivate closed rooms for intensive focus work, however within a year they took back most of them to provide more open offices. I see it as a really good way to maximize space, but it is loaded with employee performance challenges. Not every person, or job role, thrives on high collaboration. Unfortunately, it seems like it is here to stay.

    NAS says:

    Whoever created that term should be shot. Now everything is going agile, including entire companies. I would like to know who convinced all of these people that this is the best way to do things. Do I think that it can be used in areas and is more beneficial, yes but not for everything.
    Now more companies are going to an open office because they think that will promote the agile method. Personally, I get more work done when I work from home. All I need is a computer, internet and a phone and I can do my job. I used to work for a company that only allowed working from home on an exception basis but then you had people complaining that they couldn’t hear on a conference call because there was too much background noise. That company is now failing and their stock price has dropped 550% and most of Sr management has been replaced. Maybe they will finally learn.

    Tyler says:

    I do database work. I can’t deal with open office space (I tried for months). Forty people in one big room, crammed together. Everyone hears everything you say, everyone sees everything you do. I like my privacy, I hate the distractions, and it’s just a constant irritant that drastically reduces my productivity and ruins my day. For me it is hell. I am forced leave any job that goes to open office space because it’s just that awful. It seems the vast majority of employers have it now so I’m probably going to have to look at other options.

    Sean says:

    My company is doing this to us in the next few weeks. They are offering no option to work from home. I am an introvert. I don’t do shared space. So now I am leaving a place I loved because the powers that be just don’t seem to take their minion’s needs into consideration. 3 of the other people on my 8 person team are also actively looking.

    ChicagoSteve says:

    I worked in an open-office environment designed for “collaboration” but really had no one in that office to collaborate with; my colleagues were in other cities and we had been doing fine working from home.

    The open office was rather busy, as there were some permanently in-the-office groups there, and then there were those of us who had to carry our laptops and whatever else we needed back and forth from home every day and use an available open desk, different every day usually. It became easier to find a desk as people started refusing to work in that office. My bane was the occasional loud sales type phoning clients and then walking the aisles shouting his greetings and small talk. We had “focus rooms” where such calls were supposed to be made, but I got in the habit of using one of them as my work space. One wall was glass, with a view of the city. Spectacular! I loved that little focus room and no one ever asked me to clear out so they could use it. But then the company wised up to the money they were wasting even having that floor downtown, and we’re back to working from home. Winner!

    Janus says:

    Open plan and cubicle style work spaces as a standard option doesn’t work in general full stop, possibly only suitable for a limited number of industries, very limited…

    Tony says:

    Office space requires planning for the various functions people that will work in those spaces will do and the resources they will need. Most office spaces should have the following type of spaces, but varying in number depending on the needs of the organization: hoteling/open seating, conference rooms, collaborative meeting space with tools (whiteboards, monitors) separated but not closed off from open space, quiet room where no phone calls are permitted, and soundproof rooms for phone calls. Each of these different types of spaces should have a published protocol for its use so people will not burn time looking for a space to perform the work they need to perform. Certainly, there is no one size fits all. Designing an office space that will maximize productivity while providing a welcoming environment for the workers is essential for the organization to thrive as a high performing team.

    Frank M says:

    I just changed jobs for this very reason! After five years with a private office, my Philly based property mgt. company renovated to an open floor plan with work stations that are up for grabs each day. No privacy, noisy, less productive environment. Of course, the partners kept the few remaining private offices for themselves. Made it easier to leave since I had taken all of my personal belongings home at the start of renovations. Much happier in a traditional office setting now!

    Mark says:

    A horrible idea under the guise of collaboration while those subject to it seek everything contrary to that objective.

    James Wendt says:

    Collaboration is great but people need to collaborate just long enough to get on the same page and then go to work (think Agile / Scrum).

    Nothing worse than being distracted by all of the conversations around you when trying to work or knowing that you are distracting your colleagues who are trying to work when you’re having a necessary conversation.

    Also, nothing is more frustrating when you call a company and hear people talking in the background. Makes me feel like I’m talking to somebody in a sleezy telemarketing boiler-room.

    PS… if collaborative, open office space is so good for productivity, why are people more productive when they are allowed to work from home?

    PPS… while face-to-face collaboration is not a bad thing, technology has given us so many ways to collaborate that the face-to-face meeting is almost secondary to Slack and other technologies.

    Agree or disagree?


    Jen says:

    Open cube farms means from the CEO down you have total incompetence about being a leader. You are running out all the talent and encouraging productivity to downslide. But you are saving money. What used to be called “Pennywise and pound foolish”. Go ahead wreck the biggest producers you have and let them work for decent honest folks instead! They are getting ready to do the open floor plan here and all of the IT staff has their resumes out there. looking for a place they are valued. Don’t wait for the floor plan to be completed cause the folks who are waiting to see how it will be will be flooding the market then. In droves and dispair from maltreatment.

    Open office blues says:

    I work in an open office with standupable desks on wheels and intermittent hubs of ethernet and electricity in the floor. The matierials are all glass and metal. Makes for sleek look, but theres nothing to absorb sound. So it can get loud.

    It’s called an “agile” space. I think that’s a misuse of the term, agile is a process. My team of writers sits next to a team of product owners. We are crammed, while they have created a lounge space with a couch, been bag, and very large tv on which they blast movies. They also have an open space to play soccer with each other. There’s one guy who enjoys throwing a tennis ball against a glass conference-room wall while talking loudly on his bluetooth, presumably in meetings.

    I cannot make this stuff up.

    I’m in a desk so close to another that we have to check with each other before standing up because our chairs will hit.

    We’ve asked for more space, noting the other team’s tv lounge and soccer space. No go! Where are the priorities for this “work” space, I wonder?

    THOMAS says:

    18 months ago we went from cubicles to open office concept. This was all done in secret with managers. By the way they are never there. It was done for collaboration. Also they went to standup desks as well. If you wanted a standup you lose the chair.

    To me the open concept provides some collaboration but it is very noisy, hard to concentrate, conversations talking over the top of others. Collaboration (lots of hey you come to our meetings that has not be scheduled). Much of this is driven by lack of offices space but notice the managers are not sharing offices. I recently had two managers take over a conference room so the two of them could have a meeting, when each has their own office? The next big thing is open conference rooms. For extroverts supervisors this is a godsend when they can call out stuff to employees within a earshot.

    I have found the Apple iPhone with ear buds to be the answer to my prayers. I have been rediscovering music.

    After a lifetime of cubicles I long for a cubicle again.

    Sean says:

    The open office thing has been a horrible experience for me. I am with this survey in saying working from home would be most ideal. When I am in the open office, you are more than welcome to snoop on my screens / conversations all you want. What you’ll find is a person doing their damn job and a lot of your wasted time.

    Whatever Bob is talking about with dress codes and stuff is for the birds too. Specfiic shirts on specfiic days? no thanks. Those features at a workplace don’t add value anywhere. Define policies everyone agrees on, enforce them to weed out the bad seeds, get back to the task at hand, running a business.

    James says:

    Nothing annoys me worse in the open space offices than first, having to jockey for a desk when you first come in, and second, coming back from lunch to find your chair missing. WTF!?

    Jason W Solinsky says:

    Employees saying that they prefer equal amounts of space in a closed office environment or a cubical environment to an open office environment is something that I suspect to be true and is very interesting to me.

    Employees saying that they prefer working from home to crammed open offices (as seems to be the case here) is kind of obvious and not very useful.

    Mario Heacock says:

    I don’t really care why employers want the open workspace or “cube farms” for that matter. I’ve been remote for more than half of my career in I.T. and I know I’m more productive without the commute, without “the office experience” I can’t stand sitting in traffic to go do something in an office that I can do faster and more effectively in a remote environment. Why are we required to waste our time to travel to an office, especially when we’re not being compensated for the 2 – 3 hours a day that we waste commuting? Unless there is a valid reason to be in the office or data center, such as a down system or a network outage in an environment that we control it doesn’t make any sense to go to the office. Why? Because someone wants to see my shining happy face at 7am? Sorry folks your usually gonna encounter a pissed off, irritated, annoyed version of your “shiny happy” employee. We aren’t free to think outside of the box or to be creative when there are 500 distractions a minute as is the case in literally every “office job” that I’ve ever had, regardless of industry I think that being required to go to an office is ridiculous and insulting. You hired me because I can do the job and better your organization. Yet you can’t trust me to do my job unless you can see me? How 1950 of you

    Elizabeth says:

    I’ve never worked in an open office, but I think it would be a nightmare. I worked in an individual office, cubes, and a three person office. Cubes were a little distracting. I had noise canceling headphones I used when I had to really concentrate. The three person office was a nightmare for me. Various people would walk in and out all day to talk to me or my officemates. I couldn’t concentrate on a project, listen to a WebEx meeting and if I was presenting in a WebEx meeting there would be ambient noise. I would often leave in a fit of frustration and go home to work. I am not as productive at home as I am in the office. Luckilly a single office became available and I requested and moved into it. My productivity has increased greatly and my quality of life is 100% better. This is not always a possibility for everyone, however.

    Patrick says:

    I am the President of a decent size Manufacturing business. We’ve had an open office for about 20 years now for 6 people, NOT BECAUSE OF COST, but because thats how our building was built back in 1968. I would never have individual offices for my team, and I would never allow them to work from home. They get paid for 8 hours and only have to work 7 as it is. If they worked from home or had a private office I don’t think I’d get more than 5 out of them. People will take advantage of you given the opportunity – its human nature. By the way, I DO NOT HAVE A DOOR on my tiny 11’x9′ tiny private office, and never in our 20 year history has an employee complained about noise, quit, or asked if they could work from home.

    Anita says:

    1. The open office concept is a bad idea.
    2. I am blown away by the number of people who cannot spell “cubicle.” it’s “cubicle,” not “cubical.”

    Dina says:

    I just started a new job – AND I don’t belong anywhere. I have to scout and find a seat. Nothing personal is around. I hate it. The walls are low and it’s very distracting having people and equipment go by. It’s hard for my small team of 4 to sit near each other. There’s no easy way to get to know who’s in a group. Where’s the Dev team? Where are the PMs? No clue. There are 800 people in this building and I basically know where the Br’s are and the coffee. I don’t know anyone. I’ve been here for 4 months.

    thomas stutesman says:

    I am over 45, but before you say I am not with the times or discount my comments, please think about about what I am saying. First, having worked in open spaces work areas in the 1970’s and early 80’s, I did like the open – pit of ideas and thoughts that came out of being with your co-workers, but I also realized very quickly I had huge problems focusing, I ended up wearing headphones or ear plugs, long before it was fashionable. And, I really get the Agile comments about development, I deal with that today. But, got to admit… I have a hard time focusing with all the whirling things going on. So many years ago I did a study about the productivity of open office, cubes and home based workers. To sum up the findings, the highest degree of productive people were home workers, had the best work habits, most were happy to make somewhat less money to work from home. The values to companies and people were huge, less comment time (save the environment) less expensive officer space, actually worked more hours and work life was far improved. The problem s were they didn’t have water cooler conversations and many times were disconnected from the ‘corporate’ talk and flow of ideas. And, managers never really adapted to how to manage a disconnected work force. Working in todays open offices I felt like I was trying to do my job at Starbucks, with all the coffee runs, getting snacks from the break room, impromptu meetings, and interaction to social life I really have become distracted, back with the ear buds. I started to see this as a social experiment that will change. As the current generation grows, has families and children, they will find the same things we found, working from home really works. Once managers learn how to manage, and we deploy all the communication tools to be totally inclusive, we will save billions of tons of carbon, not have to have 12 lane freeways and waste countless hours in commutes. But, I do admit if I lived in a small apartment and had to work there all the time, Id go crazy also. So, coming to work would be refreshing and a nice social break. But, when you add it all up, managing children, commute, missing of family activities because of long commute times, etc. I will work from home 12 hour days instead of the 5 hour days in a open office and get far more done and save a lot of money. Nad, I will work for less money, cause it will cost me less. A commute to Chicago will add about $4000 a year in expenses for me, plus 3 hours a day spend commuting, Id rather use that time getting a project done, handling several customer calls, etc. So, yes I am old, way over the hill. I put in 12 hour plus days, 6 days a week sometime for the less money from friends in open offices. But, I saw my kids grow up, made all the track and soccer games, coached also. In all my career never missed a deadline for a project and always managed development that came in or under budget and ontime. And, have worked from home all those years. Plus, in 30 years I have only taken 4 sick days. I agree this is a generational thing and a social thing, my company is opening an office with game stations and candy in the break room, breakfast three days a week, even a room for quiet alone time. With all this technology around us and the speak about how were going to kill the planet, please look at the practical ways workers can be disconnected, work from home. I assure everyone, if done correctly is saves the planet, money and makes for a better life if done correctly.

    srichey says:

    This does not increase collaboration — if anything, it encourages people to shut down communication, wear noise cancelling head phones and find another job as soon as possible.

    Jim says:

    I am in my 30s and I HATE the open office setup. I never seem to be able to concentrate and get work done and I cannot get on calls without hearing the rest of the office.

    What happens is that everyone self segregates to the small phone booth rooms to take calls and conduct basic business or people go into conference rooms to take a call or work with some quiet. What does that sound like? Oh yeah right, offices! We should bring those back.

    fwefoaijwe says:

    It’s basically there to pit employees against one another. Once facebook/reddit/twitter etc opens on one colleague’s screen, everyone can see he/she is not working (unless they are a facebook marketer/work at facebook etc). Then management can have an easier time controlling the peons when they are turning on each other. “That guy is just checking out facebook all day” “Well, if you were doing actual work, you’d wouldn’t have the time to watch my monitor all day right?” and so on and so on. It’s all about control and nothing more. Management is mistaken if they think this environment will advance their tech business. It’s not just typing at a keyboard all day and pretending to work which makes NEW TECH valuable. If they just paid a few of the top contributors a lot and gave them the freedom to do whatever they wanted, there’s no need for an open office with a bunch of “commodity programmers” playing big brother on one another.

    liz cipollini says:

    I worked In this environment as a manager and could not have a confidential conversation as result. They gave us 2 small conference rooms to use that were in fact always occupied. I was required to have a morning huddle and had to do it in the reception area. It’s too loud for people speaking on the phone frequently and they make the walls so short now even if you speak quietly people can read your lips.

    John says:

    It’s not about “collaboration”, it’s about saving on rent by reducing needed floor space. Collaboration isn’t all that great in the first place – freeriding, idea stealers, and another excuse for defending poor decisions as being the “consensus”. Not every situation, job, or even industry benefits from this work style.

    Another problem with open floor spaces is that everyone thinks everyone else is always accessible when they’re not.

    John says:

    When you see pictures of open offices, all the employees have headphones (or buds) on and seem to have fixed gazes straight ahead at computer screens like trying to have tunnel vision through the open environment.

    Jim Nelson says:

    84% work from home.
    60% don’t want to drive to work.
    41% more prod at home.
    35% want to work remote.

    They don’t hate open offices. They hate OFFICES.

    Talk about burying the lead…

    Bambo says:

    I have two colleagues who are completely oblivious to the etiquette of open offices, and they start every day by coming 1-2 hours later than everyone else before they eat breakfast at the desk (one opts for crunchy fresh vegetables, the other for microwave heated leftovers), which they eat while talking loudly with anyone willing to lend them an ear. Furthermore, both of them moan and groan throughout the entire day, and read things out loud for others to hear, as well as muttering under their breath.

    Most of us cope by wearing headphones all day, and at the end of the day I am positively fatigued and I want nothing but silence.

    I don’t get how this is “productive” or “collaborative”, when my work does not depend on the people I share my office with, nor their work on me; the sum can’t possibly be positive when we all end up calling sick more often, because the combination of light malaise and listening to two groaning men talking to themselves is too much, and when we end up losing our concentration for the n’th time today as one of them starts reading his own private emails out loud.

    Stephanie Snider says:

    I worked in an open office space for 3 years and hated it. I had to wear headphones and listen to classical music to be able to concentrate because the conservation noise was so loud. Sometimes I would reserve a conference room just to focus on my work. As another person commented….I was a supervisor and had to work on personnel documents (sometimes disciplinary issues) about 3 feet from my staff who could easily see what I was doing. I never thought I would be envious of having a desk in a cube farm, but I was. About 6 months ago, I took another job at a different agency. One of the highlights (and certainly a factor in me accepting the position) was that I have my own office. It is amazing how much more productive I am with my time. I rarely close my door, and I have people in and out of my office asking questions a lot. Still, these walls provide not only privacy but the ability to concentrate (deep thinking) which is critical for a healthy work space. I agree with others in that we were sold the idea of collaboration with the open office design when the real reason was lack of real estate. We’re not Google….just behind the scenes state employees.

    Vickie Nitschke says:

    I have been working in a cubicle for 20 years. No privacy or peace and quiet. I supervise 10 people. Frequently have Skype calls. Not a closed door office person but it would be nice to have a quiet collaborative space.

    Shelly says:

    I am single and my only source of income. I was laid off my job mid-September 2019 and shortly after just starting to seek employment got an immediate interview for an accounts receivable position. I was told how super busy I would be which is great but before I could ask about their environment, they brought it up to me. The interviewer said you have probably heard of or worked in an open office space set up and you know how close people are to each other but she said (as she put her hands up in front of her face about a foot and a half apart) we are “extremely close” with other departments in the same room totaling about 40 people. My heart sank at that point and I knew I would not be able to focus and be accurate in an overly stimulating room of distracting noise and movement in a sardine can atmosphere. The next day they offered me the job paying a little more than I asked and I turned it down. I am still looking for employment and I think about what I turned down but I had to do it for my well being and sanity. I can handle some noise and distraction in an office and if I have some sense of privacy and some workspace to call my own then I am fine but what was described to me at that job interview sent me running for the door. It makes you feel that employers don’t give a crap about you. Oh wait…

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