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What's The Worst Thing About Working In An Open Plan Office?

A global survey into the effectiveness of open plan offices has found that most workers believe they are noisy environments that hamper productivity. Around half of respondents admitted they regularly used quiet meeting rooms or elected to work from home to avoid office racket. What do you think is the worst thing about open plan working environments?

Open plan office picture from Shutterstock

Headset manufacturer Jabra polled 11,906 office and mobile workers in Australia, Brazil, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and USA. According to the survey results, most workers find open plan offices to be distractingly noisy environments that hamper their ability to get things done due to all the extra chatter.

40 per cent of Australian respondents said they avoid phone calls altogether so as not to distract colleagues while 44 per cent said that they found people talking across the office space to be a deeply annoying distraction.

“Working in an open plan office is a great way to enhance team work, creativity and information sharing. However organisations need to make sure this increase in interaction does not impact employee productivity,” noted Jabra ANZ managing director Soren Schoennemann.

The cons of open plan offices are often highlighted by the subjects of our How I Work series, with Bitdefender’s Bogdan Botezatu the most recent respondent to take issue with these environments. Indeed, his #1 time-saving shortcut is to work from home:

“When I need to do something really important, I take a work-from-home day to do it, then return to the office for day-to-day tasks,” Botezatu said.

There’s no disputing the fact that open plan offices lead to a higher level of office hubbub. We’d also add that they stop you from slagging off people in other departments, which should be a god-given right of every office worker. In addition, there’s probably a much higher chance of getting sick. On the plus side, the large open space does make it easier to play impromptu games of office cricket.

What is the worst thing about working in an open plan office? Do any co-workers have a noisy or distracting habit that drives you up the (office) wall? Name and shame them in the comments section below!


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