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Open-Plan Offices Kill Productivity

Munira Rangwala
posted on 5th July 2017
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Open-plan offices were welcomed and embraced with open arms when the concept was first introduced. Now, however, several companies that have implemented these plans are regretting their decision to do so. What was initially thought as a break-through in office dynamics, where employees would get to interact freely in an inclusive environment has now transformed into the chief cause of employee dissatisfaction and stress. Most employees complain that they can't focus due to the commotion and harbour bitter feelings towards their co-workers.

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

Here are five main reasons why open-plan offices are killing productivity.

  • Lack of privacy

Privacy shouldn't be an option, it needs to be a necessity. Open-plan offices go against the very concept of privacy. Having co-workers hover behind your back and look over your shoulder at your laptop screen for eight to 10 hours every day can get incredibly irritating. It is even more stressful for introverts who need and love their space. Several individuals need calm and quiet to do their best work and open-plan offices don't allow that at all.

  • Physically harmful

Open-plan offices are a breeding ground for virus breakout. When employees work so closely with one another, they are more prone to pick up each other's sicknesses. For example, if one person coughs continuously, he's bound to spread the germs to those sitting around him.

  • Noise and interruptions

Such offices are a cacophony of loud chatter, phone ringing and typing, which can get to your nerves after a point. Constant pandemonium can break concentration and can lead to decreased motivation. While one colleague may be playing loud music on their system, another colleague might constantly ask you irrelevant questions, pushing the annoyance to another level. On the contrary, the more control people have on their environment, the more satisfied they are.

  • Soured relationships with colleagues

In open-plan offices, people assume that everyone's time belongs to everyone else. Working side-by-side one another is fine as long as you get to work in peace. If a co-worker is playing loud music besides you or talking on their phone continuously and you have to ask them to lower their volume time and again, it leads to the festering of bitterness which ultimately kills productivity.

  • Lack of control

When employees feel like they are free to work at their own pace, they work more productively. An open-plan office allows bosses and seniors to become peeping Toms. This not only makes employees feel as though their bosses don't trust them, but also forces them to put their productivity on display.

High-walled cubicles, on the other hand, provide a modicum of privacy. Open-plan offices keep good employees from coming into the office which in turn harms productivity.

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