24 Reasons Your Open-Plan Office Sucks

Work in an open-plan office? You’re being sold a bill of goods.

1. First of all, your office environment is a major contributor to how happy you are at your job.

Dissatisfaction with work environment directly links to a lack of job satisfaction and lower productivity.

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2. Workers in open-plan offices report increased distraction as a major detriment to job satisfaction.

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3. Workers in open-plan offices are less satisfied with their job performance than those in private offices.

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4. Noise and lack of privacy are the key sources of dissatisfaction in work environments…

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5. Loss of productivity due to noise distraction is doubled in open-plan offices.

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6. Overhearing irrelevant conversations is detrimental to any task that requires cognitive processing.

(i.e., most tasks)

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7. Tasks requiring complex verbal processes are especially likely to be disrupted.

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8. The inability to have private conversations in open-plan offices is cited as a major source of job dissatisfaction.

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9. Uncontrollable noise doesn’t just lower productivity, it also decreases overall motivation.

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10. Perceived lack of visual privacy in open-plan offices is a major contributor to job dissatisfaction.

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11. Some researchers feel that open-plan offices actually discourage collaboration, due to lack of privacy.

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12. Excessive, uncontrolled social interaction leads to overstimulation and loss of focus.

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13. The benefits of collaboration don’t outweigh sound and privacy issues.

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14. The notion that open-plan offices are good for productivity isn’t founded in research. It’s just the cheaper option.

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15. There is also no empirical evidence that open-plan offices facilitate interaction and collaboration between coworkers.

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16. In fact, ease of interaction doesn’t rate as a major concern for office workers, regardless of work environment.

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17. Personal space is more important than any other factor contributing to job satisfaction, and open-plan offices typically allow for less.

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18. Workers in open-plan offices report higher levels of distress, irritation, fatigue, headache, and concentration difficulties.

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19. In fact, one study even reported that workers in open-plan offices take more sick days than those in enclosed offices.

This has come to be called Sick Building Syndrome.

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20. Workers in open-plan offices did complain about temperature, but so did people in enclosed offices.

Regardless of layout, someone is always going to complain about the temperature.

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21. Open-plan offices are not something that workers can “just get used to.”

People coming from more traditional office layouts reported that they were unable to adapt to open-plan offices.

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22. People in enclosed offices are just as satisfied with their ability to collaborate and interact with colleagues as people in open-plan offices are.

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23. In terms of noise privacy, the only thing worse than an open-plan office is an office with high-partition cubicles.

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24. The disadvantages of open-plan offices dominate any positive impacts cited in previous studies.

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