Is Open Office Really for Everyone?

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It seems like open office plans are all the craze recently. Every company and startup wants to implement an open office plan for more collaboration, innovation, and workplace freedom. The way office furniture and seating is set up can influence a company's productivity. There is no individual setup that works for every company. So why does everybody insist on working in an open office environment?

Do You Actually Collaborate More?

Cubicle-free workspaces are supposed to promote collaboration. Without any walls or borders, doesn't that mean you'll communicate more with your neighbors? While you might think that's the case, you couldn't be further from the truth. An open office plan might actually make employees less productive.hook

A study conducted by Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban has actually disproved the collaborative effects that open office plans should have. An open office usually leads to more noise since there are no barriers. Sound travels across the office and it becomes a nuisance. People end up wearing earphones and headphones more often. They try to tune out the extra noises so that they can focus. An open office also leads to less privacy. You're surrounded by coworkers and anyone can see your screen from every direction. The lack of privacy is a concern that can make people choose to work from home instead.

otter

>> Take a look at Otter Products's office

People Communicating through Emails

All of this culminates into an environment that hinders face-to-face communications.

When somebody is hunched over their computer screen, wearing headphones, you don't want to bother them. So what do you do? You send an email. In the study referenced above, companies that adopted open office plans were 67 prcent more likely to use emails and 75 percent more likely to use instant messaging.

But isn't that the opposite effect of what an open office plan is supposed to achieve? Absolutely. But when you stuff people into an open environment when they're trying to be productive, the last thing you want to do is turn into "that person". The person who breaks people out of their productivity trance. Instead, people end up sending online emails and messages.

sourcibo

>> Take a look at Sourcibo's office

Who Are Open Office Plans Really For?

Open office plans are often touted as a collaborative haven that innovates on every corner. People love to promote their offices as a paradise for innovation, but as studies have shown, open office plans can backfire in certain conditions.

So who are open office plans really for?

Honestly, "open office plans" have become a buzzword or phrase in our new age of technology. Hiring for startups now involves a lot more benefits and cool perks. Open office plans still has that positive connotation of fun innovation. It's a great hook to pull in more potential recruits with the collaborative mindset.

innovix

>> Take a look at Innovix's office

Stay Above The Noise

Some people thrive in these conditions, some don't. As somebody who's looking for work, you have to understand what your working style is like and how you perform under those circumstances. If you're new in the workforce and looking for a company to call home, figure out how you like to work.

You can do this by studying your habits while you were in school. Did you like working at home in a quiet environment or did you like listening to loud music at all times? Do you do better in group projects? Are you somebody who likes to spitball ideas with others? How did you feel about working in a library?

>> Take a look at Clifford Chance's office


If you know how you like to work, it'll make it easier to find a company with the right culture to fit you. Remember, finding a job is hard and you might think that you have to sacrifice some things to get a job, but you're a valuable asset wherever you go. The company is hiring you to help them. It's only fair to make sure that you're put into an environment that allows you to do the best work you can accomplish.

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Chris Chu

Freelance writer, passionate about professional and personal development.

3 min read

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