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.