The open office debate will never be settled as long as there are dog people and cat people, coffee drinkers and tea sippers in the world. There are just too many variables that go into what makes some person feel alive in a bustling workspace while others feel overwhelmed. We’ve been collecting conversations on this topic for quite some time, so here’s an overview of some of the common opinions—both for and against.
In Favor of Walls:
- Desk dividers or cubicles are the minimum requirement for privacy and personal space.
- Open offices invite interruption. The sound from phone conversations is too distracting.
- Open offices provide too much information about peers. You don’t really need to know how often someone visits the restroom or the break room.
- Work takes longer in an open environment.
- Phone work should never be done in an open setting. Cubicle walls or small offices work best.
- Receiving a phone call from someone in an open office environment is unpleasant. There’s too much background noise.
- An open environment is like an ad hoc meeting that has no point, is constantly interrupted, and never ends.
In Favor of Open Design:
- An open office with lots of activity (but no rudeness) is creatively stimulating.
- Open workspaces are nicest when they feature plenty of natural light to offset the downsides of lost privacy.
- Coworkers use a lower voice when there are no cubicle walls (this was in an office that trained employees with etiquette videos when they switched to an open layout).
- People are more likely to work hard when they are in an open office environment and can see others working.
- High cubicle walls or offices create barriers to open communication and collaboration.
- Teamwork is better and the flow of communication is improved when everyone is in close proximity.
As you probably noticed, these opinions can vary greatly based on perceptions, personal experience, and personality. Next week, we’ll look at opinions about how open spaces affect interpersonal relationships and whether open or closed is really the best option for communication and collaboration. Stay tuned!