My new column is out in The Drum:
Open office workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your high blood pressure.
If you work in marketing, media or high-tech startups, you probably spend the day in an environment worse than the one in Office Space. Yes, here are just a few reasons why shared workspaces give you a permanent case of the Mondays.
- You sit in an open office because it is supposedly cheaper. But when you adjust for a 15% ‘productivity tax’ on each employee, the design actually leads to a net loss of $578,000 per year.
- Top executives and investors think only about the short-term savings of open offices and not the long-term cost.
- VCs think that having anything but an open office is a waste of their money.
- I do not want to smell the chicken vindaloo you are having for lunch.
- No one does their fucking dishes.
- If ‘collaboration’ is the reason for open offices, then why does everyone sit in rows with headphones all day and stare silently at their computer screens?
- Open offices are meant to increase face-to-face collaboration but actually reduce it.
- The ‘collaboration’ reason is bullshit. Check the nose length of any boss who says otherwise.
- Certainly no one ever collaborated before in companies without open offices.
- How much ‘collaboration’ do you really need to do your job? Useless, redundant meetings are bad enough.
- There is more internal group tension in open offices than in Oasis.
- People are frustrated by distractions.
- Workers are less productive when they hear background noise.
- 95% say working privately is important to them while 31% have to leave the office to get work done.
- Workers lose more than an hour per day due to distractions.
- A typical open office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes and needs up to 25 minutes to refocus on the original task.
- Independent designer Amar Singh: “Cool, you’re going to spend a fuck ton of money on talented engineers and designers and then put them in an environment where they’re constantly distracted. Airtight plan.”
- “Slack is like an open office placed right in my skull.”
- Panasonic actually released the ludicrous Wear Space: “A prototype product that can only really be described as horse blinders for humans. The wraparound head-shield, which includes noise-cancelling headphones, is a sleek, contemporary way to prevent distractions from colleagues in open-plan offices.”
- If open offices are so wonderful, then why do most top executives give themselves private offices?