Open Office Plans

Open office plans are a nightmare for highly sensitive people. If it’s not the constant chatter of co-workers, it’s the lack of private personal space where one can think. Too often in such circumstances, we lose focus and concentration and end up struggling to stay awake and simply get through one more day. Have you worked in such situations? I have and found them to be draining and irritating. That being said, most HSPs seem to prefer a balance of office time versus working from home (or other space) time. For me, the ideal arrangement might be 2-3 days in the office (not an open office plan) and 2-3 days of working from home (or other space). How about you? What’s the most sustainable office arrangement for you?

The following article certainly speaks to a timely subject:

(original link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5284465/Employees-share-space-dissatisfied-work.html#ixzz54Z4B4VB2).

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

  • Open plan office workers have low levels of job satisfaction
  • In open plan offices people find it hard to have meaningful conversations   
  • Workers are also more often distracted and less productive when sharing space

If you hate your job, the layout of your office may be to blame.

New research has found that, far from creating an cooperative environment, open plan offices can make employees miserable.

The study found that staff that work in an open environment are distracted, irritated and find it difficult to have a good conversation with colleagues.

Previous research has also claimed that office workers are more easily distracted when they share space with others.

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Open plan offices designed to foster cooperation between colleagues may be bad for business and could soon become a thing of the past. Rather than boosting productivity, the range of distractions they provide means employees are interrupted every three minutes

The study was carried out by researchers from the CTF, Service Research Centre at Karlstad University in Sweden.

They looked at the link between the type of office and the satisfaction levels of staff.

Dr Tobias Otterbring, lead author of the study, said: ‘The results show a negative relationship between the number of co-workers sharing an office and employees’ job satisfaction.

The researchers looked at two factors in office workers – ease of interaction with their peers and general well-being.

The study found that employees working in small (3-9 people) and medium-sized  (10-20 people) open plan offices reported lower levels of both of these aspects than individuals who work in a different type of office.

‘The open plan offices may have short-term financial benefits, but these benefits may be substantially lower than the costs associated with decreased job satisfaction and well-being.

‘Therefore, decision-makers should consider the impact of a given office type on employees rather than focusing solely on cost-effective office layout, flexibility, and productivity,’ Dr Otterbring added.

Dr Nicole Millard believes socialising and teamwork will still be a necessary part of work in the future. But we may have to reconsider what we view as an office space, with coffee shops and hotel lobbies all potential meeting places for small teams to get work done

Dr Nicole Millard believes socialising and teamwork will still be a necessary part of work in the future. But we may have to reconsider what we view as an office space, with coffee shops and hotel lobbies all potential meeting places for small teams to get work done

As well as lower levels of job satisfaction, open plan office workers are interrupted every three minutes, a futurologist has claimed.

This is according to Dr Nicole Millard, who specialises in data, analytics and emerging technology at BT.

She believes large offices are inefficient and predicts they will die out, according to reports in The Telegraph.

They are particularly damaging for introverted employees, who prefer to work uninterrupted and who may clam up in crowds.

For the ethos behind open plan offices to work, boosting morale and encouraging teamwork, staff need to be sat close to the people they regularly collaborate with.

WHAT IS A ‘COFFICE’?

Dr Nicole Millard believes inundation with emails, meetings and other interactions with colleagues are among the chief causes of distraction in large offices.

This can lead to ‘task-switching’, which often results in work being overlooked or forgotten.

One sign of this is when you shut down your computer at the end of the day and find unclosed windows or unsent emails you didn’t get around to, because you were interrupted.

So does this spell the end for all office based jobs?

Dr Millard believes not, as socialising and teamwork will still be a necessary part of work in the future.

However, we may have to reconsider what we view as an office space.

The offices, or ‘coffices’ of the future could be a coffee shop or a hotel lobby, where small teams of workers can meet up to get work done.

But the futurologists says research has shown that social awkwardness can kick in if people are crammed too close together.

Dr Millard said: ‘The trouble with open plan offices is they are a one-size-fits-all model which actually fits nobody.

‘We’re interrupted every three minutes. It takes us between eight and 20 minutes to get back into that thought process.

‘So we will become shoulder bag workers. Our technology has shrunk so we can literally get our office in a small bag.

‘We are untethered, we don’t have to have a desk anymore.’

Dr Millard believes inundation with emails, meetings and other interactions with colleagues are among the chief causes of distraction.

This can lead to ‘task-switching’, which often results in work being overlooked or forgotten.

One sign of this is when you shut down your computer at the end of the day and find unclosed windows or unsent emails you didn’t get around to, because you were interrupted.

So does this spell the end for all office based jobs?

Dr Millard believes not, as socialising and teamwork will still be a necessary part of work in the future.

However, we may have to reconsider what we view as an office space.

She added: ‘We need a balance between we and me.

‘We need to give people options of how they can work, such as home working.

‘But I do go a tiny bit nuts if I am just at home, so I think we will start to embrace ‘the coffice’.

‘I need good coffee, connectivity, cake, my WiFi wings to fly me into the cloud.

‘I like company. The ‘coffice’ could be a coffee shop or a hotel lobby.’

The latest study was recently published in Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health. 

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