Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More Walls, Please

The best time of year to work at the office (as opposed to someplace else) is now, the holiday season. Just about everyone is away on vacation; unlike most other days, the place is nearly empty and wonderfully peaceful.

My office, you see, has an extremely open layout (i.e., where the walls between desks are low or non-existent), and it can feel quite overwhelming. Look up from your computer, and you find yourself staring into your neighbor's eyes. Extend your legs too far and you're playing footsie with him or her. Coworkers gather behind your chair to chat; in fact, conversations are never-ending all around you. Read an email, or look at your bank account balance at your own risk; when you do, everyone will know about it.

I've always been surprised that others don't seem to mind open offices. According to an article I saw yesterday on the Washington Post, though, people mind more than I knew. The lack of privacy, and the distractions, appear to affect most people. Not only does it diminish productivity, but it makes people feel "frustrated" and "helpless". I believe it. If only I could convince my boss to believe it.

Apparently, the main selling point for the open office idea is that it "enhances interaction" between coworkers. That, I'm guessing, is an idea originating from an extrovert. For me, less interaction would be ideal. And more walls.

It's an amusing article, and I like how the author ended it by promoting the work-at-home solution. "At home," she writes, "my greatest distraction is the refrigerator." Well put.

 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not happy with an open area either. I prefer my unshared office that only those that are invited may enter. I fear your office space would be trying for me.

Mei

Zeri Kyd said...

Hi, Mei, how fortunate you are!

Jeankfl said...

I totally agree! I hate feeling like everyone is listening to every word. It makes it worse that it's frequently confidential medical information. But, even if it's not, I don't like all the noise and random energy around me! I'm sorry you have to work in that. Even only partially open is better. Or open with a respectable amount of space between desks.5

Zeri Kyd said...

Hey, Jean! It's been a while! Hope you've been well.

And thanks for the comment. It's good to know not everyone prefers such openness and proximity with others. I agree about the randomness, too. Sometimes it feels like a bee hive has hatched around my office chair.

Traci Maurio said...

Awhile ago, I was forced to sit in a cube and I offered to take a pay cut to get back in an office. It was not the prestige I sought, but the peace.

Zeri Kyd said...

Hi, Traci, I'm sure it was well worth it!

Elizabeth Tuga said...

I prefer peace and privacy too, it makes me more productive.

Zeri Kyd said...

Hi, Elizabeth, same here. Thanks for the note!

YK said...

It's too bad that my current workplace is an open office. I've just made a request and moved to a seat near windows at the corner and without anyone behind me. I still feel overwhelmed by the office layout as I wrote this, but at least I can see the moving cars from the windows instead of more passers-by and more heads! :)

Zeri Kyd said...

YK, that was nice of them to accommodate you a bit. Seems like making employees comfortable in the workplace should be important.