What I Hate Most About an Open Office – Open Office Terrorists

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So, how’s that new open office plan treating you?

A recent study says that it takes a normal person roughly 37 seconds to figure out that working in an open office environment is going to suck!

I mean, those were probably the slow people in the study, because it doesn’t take a mental genius to see that going from an office where you could actually get stuff done to one where a bunch of people are looking at each other probably isn’t the best concept for productivity!

The pitfalls of open offices

OK, so that wasn’t a “real” study. It was me and the voices in my head discussing the open office concept, and we all agree. Call it what you will; I’ll call it a quorum.

An actual study done recently by GetVoip was spammed to me last week. It was titled The Detrimental Pitfalls of Open-Plan Offices and had the following findings:

  • 95 percent of employees said working privately is important to them;
  • 89 percent of employees are more productive when working alone;
  • 63 percent of employees list “loud” co-workers as their No. 1 office distraction.

But, Tim! Open offices look so cool, and they foster collaboration, and communication, and ping-pong!

That’s great, but how many of you actually need more collaboration and communication? I mean, really? Let’s be honest.

Terrorists of the open office

If Billy comes over to talk about The Voice one more time I’m going to gut him right here in my 8 ft by 8 ft low wall cubicle space I spend most of my time in. I’ll then use Billy’s skin to make a roof over my cubicle and finally have a little piece and quiet to actually get something done.

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It’s not that I don’t like Billy. He’s was super the first 3,000 times he came in to talk me. Now I want to see him die.

Open office space sucks because you have co-workers that are terrorists of the open office. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they disguise themselves as actual co-workers. Here are a few examples:

  • The CrossFit Terrorist — Mandy does CrossFit. She thinks you should do CrossFit. And apparently, the next best thing to doing CrossFit is talking about CrossFit to people who don’t give a crap about CrossFit.
  • The Vegan Terrorist — Mark is Vegan. He thinks you should be Vegan. And apparently, the next best thing to being Vegan is talking about being Vegan to people who are trying to enjoy a nice fried donut and a RedBull for breakfast.
  • The “Why” Guy — The “Why” Guy can also be a Gal. They just want to know “why!” Why are we doing this? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why is the boss nice today? Why is the sky blue? Why are you holding a knife to your wrist?
  • The Schemer — Molly is a schemer. Molly wants you to scheme with her. Molly doesn’t like how Missy wears her hair and wants to get her fired. Plus, she thinks Missy’s teeth are too white. Molly spends 77 percent of her day scheming of ways to get Missy fired, and needs to tell you all about it.

The devil in disguise

You see? Open office plans are the devil in disguise.

If you had an actual office with a door, you could shut it. You could lock it. You could put up a sign that says, “I hate you! Go away!” but that would just look silly hanging from your chair at that table in the middle of the room you share with a bunch of terrorists!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.

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