My employer is seriously considering moving our staff from individual cubicles with five-foot high walls, to one of the following options:
1. a hot-desking environment where we have a half-sized locker for coats and belongings and where we can have no personal items at the desks or…
2. shared cubicles with two-foot high clear dividers where you would be literally sitting back-to-back with another co-worker.
They keep saying it’s so we can “collaborate” more, meanwhile, we are government social workers who meet frequently with clients. We work under strict legislative requirements, so there really isn’t much to “collaborate” on. We will have to meet clients in a separate space, which will be set up like our current cubicles. Seems like a waste creating extra work spaces, when what we have works well. So far our opinions are going unheard.
I am a serious introvert, and both options are unacceptable to me. I have panic attacks just thinking about it. If we end up in shared cubicles, though, what suggestions do people have (photos or links would be awesome!), that would create more privacy and comfort for me? – T
Open workspaces really became all the rage in the post-dot com boom. It seemed really trendy and collaborative at the time. But now there is so much research coming out that supports the idea that less private workspaces and open office plans actually kill productivity, force people to use headphones to block out noise, and encourage workers to work from home if it’s allowed. The science of it all proved that workers had less face time and spent more time emailing and IMing instead of interacting face-to-face. It was the exact opposite of the intended affect and lowered morale, especially among those like you and I who are more introverted. Here are a few resources to have on hand:
- Open office plans are as bad as you thought (Washington Post)
- Here’s proof that open office layouts don’t work, and how to fix them (PBS)
- We Just Got More Evidence Open Plan Offices Suck, According to Science (Science Alert)
- Open-Plan Offices Kill Productivity, According to Science (INC.)
- Why Your Open Office Workspace Doesn’t Work (Forbes)
- The open office plan is a disaster (Chicago Tribune)
The solution is complicated if concerns have been raised and ignored, but all hope isn’t lost. If you present a few of these case studies, perhaps as a group, it could sway their opinion on the solution. And if not, perhaps there is a compromise wherein the private spaces are plentiful so that you can retreat there when you need to really get things done or need time to work alone.
And if all else fails, then it’s probably time to invest in a good set of noise-cancelling headphones and maybe a chair sign that indicates you’re on an important call or working on a deadline-driven project? Let’s see what other suggestions the readers have…
If you were stuck in an open office environment, what would you do to ensure both your sanity and your productivity are preserved?