The Non-Open-Plan Office

Open-plan offices are pretty much the standard approach these days, but that doesn't mean they work for everyone. When Australian software developers Campaign Monitor moved to new premises, having closed offices for each team member was a key requirement, but the end result is anything but stodgy.

Campaign Monitor's Sydney premises house 40 private offices for serious work, but also include key spaces for relaxing such as kitchens, gaming and ping pong areas. It's quite reminiscent of Google's Australian HQ, but it has to be said no-one at Google gets a private office.

Hit the company blog post for more details of the Campaign Monitor HQ and how it was designed.

The new Campaign Monitor Office [via Lost At E Minor


Comments

    After working in cubicles and shared offices for years, I am really happy in my current job. Everyone here has their own office, their own space. It really does wonders for productivity when people know they're not just sheep and actually have an area to call their own.

    [Insert humorous, yet true cubicle-related Dilbert comic here]

    A humorous Dilbert? Good luck finding one.

    Working in an open plan environment really is the pits, unless you are one of those people who just goes to work to socialise and not actually do much work.

    In open plan I could not concentrate due to the sheer amount of noise, the constant interruptions and total lack of privacy. You really do feel like you are just part of a herd of cattle.

    I got so stressed and pissed off with it, I ended up retiring early. Even though my bosses acknowledged my expertise and experience and begged me to stay there was nothing they could do about the open plan policy forced upon them from above.

    I suppose it depends on what type of work you do. I've worked in an environment where there was a constant need for close collaboration and information sharing between team members. Having an open office plan broken down by team's really worked to foster that sharing mind-set.

    My work however was essentially a stand-alone role and I often would have to put in the earphones to plug away at my job to drown out the noise. Apart from that we worked off laptops so I always had the option to sit at the kitchen, lovesacs or various couches in the office if I needed some space to hear myself think... so there were ways around it.

    Open plan offices just don't work for me at all! I find the noise and interruptions really distracting so it is much harder to concentrate. There isn't much privacy as colleagues can see/hear everything I do - so some things like calling the union, discussing a medical condition, giving a referee report, applying for a promotion are nearly impossible unless you want everyone to know your intimate details.
    I feel 'forced' to socialise, and as an introvert I spent many days being really overstimulated. I am starting to understand those kids who take a gun to school!!
    Suffice it to say I am trying to leave, and a question I will ask at my next interview is "do you work open plan?"

    Our office relocated into an ultra-modern, five star green building in the CBD with funky shared spaces, recycled timber features, cool stairs and great facilities.
    Offices have been abolished in favour of non-hierarchical seating designed to facilitate collaboration and communication. We have modern meeting rooms, a staff "HUB", tea point/meeting platforms, meeting pods hanging in stairwells and "quiet rooms". SOUNDS GREAT!!

    Unfortunately in reality, it is an anti-personnel and anti-productivity strategy. As an office with hundreds of engineers, scientists and planners (inlcuding numerous introvert personalities), we ideally need somewhere private to effectively think, read and write - with collaboration spaces nearby.

    As it is, we sit facing each other in one-size fits all 2m x 1m workstations in primary-school-style desk clusters of 6 or 8, without so much as a dividing screen between us and only one short shelf and one rolling credenza for storage. The effect is chaotic.

    The team are pretty considerate, but the layout of surrounding clusters means you hear every discussion and phone call, and I feel guilty at the disruption I must be causing to others - I regularly walk into a file storage room to take mobile calls - because the meeting rooms and quiet rooms are constantly busy.

    I would also love to see the research that indicates that the office junior, a CADD operator, and HR manager, and a technical manager of a team of 20 or more people have identical requirements for seating, IT, storage, and telecoms.

    I have found the working environment so disturbing and stressful that I am writing this working from home to get some effective quiet time. So much for facilitating collaboration.

    If you have to have open plan, design for as much privacy as you can afford.

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