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Why You Need Your Own Office
We all know where the average bullpen employee is going to end up in this argument, but our investigation into office layouts is more about what is better for production and the employee’s peace of mind: working in a private office or in an “open” office.
For those who are fortunate enough to have been spared the experience, an open office is the designer’s way of referring to “Cube City” – a large workspace where everyone sits together and may or may not be separated by low-rise cubicle partitions. Why would managers insist on this rather than just giving everyone their own office?
When the move toward open offices began – well before the economy tanked and open offices were more of an option than a necessity – it was touted by workplace planners as a way to encourage creativity and facilitate a loyal hive mind. Supposedly, open offices allow for spontaneous conversations to arise that produce amazingly creative ideas!
<em>Official Truth:</em> When it comes to creativity, studies indicate that spontaneous collaboration is the exception, not the rule. People are either using headphones to blot out the existence of others around them or they’re too busy looking busy to stop for a spur-of-the-moment brainstorming session.
What's more, workplace observation revealed that conversations became more superficial and the kind of risk-taking attitudes that lead to innovation were gradually snuffed out by political correctness and avoidance issues.
Open offices were also promoted as a way to keep people accountable and on task. The thinking was that competitiveness and camaraderie would, by turns, make people work harder. Joe sees Sally working hard, so Joe decides he’s going to work hard – either to one-up Sally or to help her carry the load.
<em>Official Truth</em>: Numerous studies have shown that the lack of privacy in open-office plans actually discourages communication, which slows work performance. What’s more, the BBC reported in 2009 that bullpen environments caused high stress and high blood pressure in employees, again leading to lower work productivity.
<strong>More of the same!</strong>
If you’re reading this at work, odds are that you’re doing it while stealing glances over your shoulder – because you’re probably working in an open office. And unfortunately, that’s not about to change anytime soon. It’s just cheaper, and while the economy may be on the rebound it hasn’t gained enough steam for employers to start handing out offices to every Joe and Sally that comes through the door.
You can make your workspace more comfortable, though, and<a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank"> ATGStores.com</a> has all kinds of nifty ways to help you do it.