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Open Concept Office

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amitheow posted 10/24/2013 09:45 AM


Just heard management is thinking of getting rid of our cubicle farm and doing an open concept office with cubicle walls at desk height ... and piping in white noise.

This sounds like a DISASTER and a breeding ground for germs. Anyone else have experience with this? I think it means I need to get outta here!!!

simplydevastated posted 10/24/2013 09:52 AM

That just sounds ridiculous. You need the walls for some sort of privacy to do your work. Without them everyone is going to hear all the phone calls, etc... Unless that's the whole plan.

amitheow posted 10/24/2013 09:58 AM

They are piping in the white noise so we don't hear each other. I think it will be like big tables, shared by four people or so. You know your computer backed up to someone else's .. staring at someone all day. Seeing every single person who is up and walking around. It sounds like a nightmare.

I googled it yesterday. Some look like pods of shared desks and some look like classrooms! How will I get ANY work done?!

Dreamboat posted 10/24/2013 11:13 AM

Our cubes come up to about shoulder height when you are sitting. It is supposed to foster communication. What it fosters to a LOT of noise and distraction. I hear every conversation in my row and the 2 rows on either side of me. That is a total of 39 other people I can hear on the phone and consulting with colleagues. Of those, there are about 5 that are supremely annoying and I want to stuff a sock in their mouth.

How will I get ANY work done?!

Honestly, I don't get much work done.

Crescita posted 10/24/2013 11:22 AM

That sounds like an introvert nightmare. Perhaps you could float a few negative studies on the concept around the office?

ItsNotUitsMe posted 10/24/2013 11:29 AM

Same awful layout in my office and I have a corner area where the actual 2 walls are shared with the factory. It's so distracting. They claim better communication. I wear earphones when I can to block it out but management hates it.

sunandmoon posted 10/24/2013 11:55 AM

For some the white noise may mean "nappy time" Just sayin'

not a fan of the open concept- I found cubicle farm tough enough when I was in that. I treasure my door.Seriously.


amitheow posted 10/24/2013 13:30 PM

Oh they are even kicking managers out of their offices. EVERYONE except directors are going into the open concept. They said there will be VERY FEW offices.

This just sounds awful.

Foster communication? At LEAST once every six months we get an email about too much talking in the office, too much socializing, too loud, keep it quiet, etc ...

Rebreather posted 10/24/2013 14:09 PM

Foster communication about what everyone did last weekend?

I'm sitting here kissing my four lovely walls!!!

TrustNoOne posted 10/24/2013 14:48 PM

I recently went through this with my teams. It was a corporate decision. Naturally there was some resistence and the normal obstacles with change management.

Perhaps some content below will help you think things through in its entirety.

I'm not an advocate for or against. As with most things there are pros/cons.

These are just a few popular types of open plan workplaces in use around the world today:
Team-oriented ‘bullpen’ – employees can see and hear each other freely, but desks are grouped into teams/areas
High-panelled cubicles – employees can’t see other employees when seated
Low-panelled cubicles – employees can see over the panels when seated
Clusters or ‘pods’ – a group of low-panelled work stations, separated by very short panels from other pods.
Virtual Office - a la carte work spaces, offices and communication services.
Executive Suite - subleased office space, even open, in a large professional environment or office building.

As you experience change, recognize how you’re feeling, understand that it’s normal and manage yourself through it:

• Mourn the loss of what was – i.e., some privacy, a place to call “your own”, a quiet environment, what you’ve known verses what is another change
• Embrace the possibilities – increased collaboration, enhanced teamwork, observing/learning opportunities, peer-to-peer accountability
• Acknowledge the challenges – personal space, house-keeping (cups, glasses, food containers/items, etc), germs, decibel level, ipods, cell phones, securing valuables, etc

• Teamwork
• Learning from observation/listening
• Faster access to coworkers and quicker response time to issues
• Easier to standardize tasks and workflow
• Allows for a quick morning huddle and to quickly know what others are working on, who is in that day, who is out, where someone might have to fill-in, etc.
• Less personal time spent on texts, surfing the internet (as stated by a front-line employee who felt they work hard while their peer goofed off)
• It fosters improved relationships between front-line staff, Sr’s, Supervisors and in some cases, Managers – which allows for immediate input/feedback, spot training, answering questions, and closer observation of performance

• Loss of privacy
• Noise level – surprisingly, not from people that work within the bullpen but from those who visit and talk loudly. Whispering should be a rule.
• Heads down work requires focus and attention – people wear headphones a lot to try to distance themselves from the activity around them
• What’s “organized and tidy to you isn’t the same as organized and tidy to me” – there need to be guidelines about housekeeping
• No place to hang a coat, umbrella, or gym towel (we’re going to remedy that will a coat rack, gym towels belong in your locker or in your car)
• No place to take a break, surf the web or make a personal phone call in private (or without being viewed as slacking)

• Provide an area (conf room or row of cubicles) with docking stations/phones that allows for some privacy when needed
• Establish guidelines and boundaries at the outset so that people have similar expectations
• Agree that no one eats fish for lunch at their desk
• Provide a printer in the bullpen
• Get a whiteboard or easel for the bullpen
• Provide a bookcase for books/binders that will be in general use/demand – so that they aren’t crowding one person’s space or cause interruption to them when retrieved
• Provide a coatrack/stand for jackets, umbrellas, etc instead of having them laying around or hanging off of chairs
• Ensure that visitors understand that the bullpen is (generally) a quiet zone – whisper
• Provide antiseptic wipes or dispensing machines at the bullpen entrance – we are in close quarters and share germs, someone is sick all the time
• Be sensitive to the ergonomic needs of some staff members
• Encourage use of handset/headset when on phone calls – perhaps using an earplug in the other ear to facilitate concentration and focus

Change is difficult. It will require flexibility.

We're 6 months into this and it has definitely had its challenges. Believe it or not, now those who are in later phases of the open floor plans are asking to be moved to an earlier phase.

KVille posted 10/25/2013 06:29 AM

I just started working for a place that make office furniture ,all office parts including chairs, desks, cubes,lighting.
It seems that the very upper management of companies are asking for this, and a lot of us seem to think it has to do with getting more work out of office workers. If someone can see you surfing the web, making personal calls and so forth would you do it ?
Yes this is going to affect all but very upper management we were told.
Our place started it in the factory (I am a supervisor there)we can't blow our nose in private.
I suggest ear plugs.

tushnurse posted 10/25/2013 07:07 AM

Would not work for me. I have one of "those voices" it carries, even when I think I'm being quiet. I would make everyone else insane.

How about if I'm not being productive, you talk to me about it, not punish everyone?

It is the dumbest thing ever as far as I am concerned. If you can't manage your people to their potential then that is a management issue. If your people aren't working to their full potential it is your responsibility to figure out why and get them to, and if certain individuals can't they need training or let go.

Seems very Iron wallish to me.

amitheow posted 10/25/2013 07:12 AM

That's the thing- we use earplugs and earphones now. It's very loud NOW .. with our big cube walls.

Do we surf the web and text and talk on the phone? Sure .. but those things aren't really frowned upon in moderation. We're all adults and as long as work is being done ... they don't say anything.

I am very concerned about the lack of privacy and people sneaking up behind me. I'm concerned about someone sneezing right in my face ... I'm concerned about all the space I will lose. Right now I have an L shaped desk and with this new model just probably the desk in front of me and a few drawers. We have a LOT of stuff ... and now no where to put it. I'm just ... concerned. Not to mention silly stuff like my cube is decorated and reflects ME .. and now I have to lose all that and sit in a sterile work environment? Talk about a miserable 8 hours!

Trust No One

Thank you - this is very helpful and I will be sharing this around here. Maybe we will love it but I've heard from other employees who came from somewhere else, they HATED it ... all of them. :(

Williesmom posted 10/25/2013 08:30 AM

I'm sorry, but I would be forced to talk loudly about stuff that no one wants to hear about:

the state of my bowels
the state of my dog's bowels
my new tattoo
your new tattoo

amitheow posted 10/25/2013 09:46 AM

That's what I'm thinking!!

Sad in AZ posted 10/25/2013 18:24 PM

The concept is not to punish workers or spy on them but to promote collaboration & teamwork. The problem is that half of the world are introverts & do not work well with this concept. In fact there have been studies that indicate it is much more effective to have people work independently when fresh ideas are needed. However, so much money is being put into producing this type of office furniture that it is being aggressively marketed & that marketing is making execs think it's a good idea.

Dark Inertia posted 10/25/2013 18:29 PM

Yeah, I have worked in that open office space type before. Hated it. Everyone was on top of each other and there IS no privacy. I love my hole in the wall cubicle.

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