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Photos by Kelsey Smith
Open office layouts are the downfall of every employee ever — or at least according to Jason Feifer, senior writer at Fast Company. A couple weeks back, Feifer ranted about the pitfalls of wide-open workspaces — including decreased productivity, shoddier work, and lack of privacy and respect. And rather than bringing employees together, he argued open-office layouts actually distance us from our coworkers. In his own words:
“This is the problem with open-office layouts: It assumes that everyone’s time belongs to everyone else. It doesn’t. We are here to work together, sure, but most of the time, we actually work alone. That’s what work is: It is a vacillation between collaboration and solitary exploration. One isn’t useful without the other.”
For the 70 percent of U.S. employees who now work in open offices, putting it all out there may be a huge hindrance to a productive 9-to-5. According to one (small) study cited by Feifer, employees in cubicles face 29 percent more interruptions than workers in private offices. Employees who are frequently interrupted report nine percent higher rates of exhaustion. And in a survey of more than 42,000 open-office workers, employees expressed strong dissatisfaction with sound privacy and extreme lack of space.
While removing physical obstacles may promote casual interactions between employees, there’s no guarantee it induces important ones, nor that it improves the quality of anyone’s work. And that’s precisely why I plan to install soundproofing walls of Greatist’s open-office space (just kidding).
(Beat the chaos: 27 Ways to Get More Sh!t Done)