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suityou01
8th May 2014, 10:08
Open plan offices suck. Why people are finally waking up to it - Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/10665747/Open-plan-offices-suck.-Why-people-are-finally-waking-up-to-it.html)

Worth a read.

In summary :

Background noise - it can be stressfully hard to string a sentence together or review a column of figures in monastic silence, let alone amid a cacophony of conversations.

Lack of visual privacy - it is a biological fact that whenever you’re in a ‘crowd’ or public setting, the body’s fight-or-flight mechanism is on permanent standby.

Reduced ability to control personal space - Nomadic hotdesking.

For female workers, the worst offenders – in terms of sick days – were the three sizes of open plan offices.

For men, flexi-offices – with no individual workstations, though some shared meeting rooms – were most likely to result in days taken off.

***

I'm currently working in a large open plan office. My malingering to one side, I do find the throng of telephone calls, impromptu meetings held at yodelling volume and people just popping by a big distraction.

I'm not so bad if I'm just doing bugfixes, but if I'm having to design a moderately complex object model I find my thought processes about as fragile as a soap bubble. Perhaps I'm just old and cranky.

I make good use of earphones, but even then the background noise can reach such a hiatus that even they don't drown stuff out.

Anyone else find office configurations counter productive? What tips do you have for me so I can get back to my autistic monastic ways?

doodab
8th May 2014, 10:10
I hate them. All I can suggest is try and WFH, or get in well early before everyone else.

MarillionFan
8th May 2014, 10:12
I plug into this when I need to concentrate.

12 Hours of White Noise (Static) in Stereo. Favorite it for the future. Studying Sleep Tinnitus - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KaOrSuWZeM)

scooterscot
8th May 2014, 10:24
I reckon what used to take me 5-days to produce in a client's open plan office takes me between 2-3 days in my own office now.

minestrone
8th May 2014, 10:28
I reckon what used to take me 5-days to produce in a client's open plan office takes me between 2-3 days in my own office now.

What I can produce in 1 minute sitting on the toilet.

SueEllen
8th May 2014, 10:30
I hate them. All I can suggest is try and WFH, or get in well early before everyone else.

Shhhh

You can't get more people getting in early. :mad

SimonMac
8th May 2014, 10:32
They suck because there is no where to hide from stupid people, or Dev's are the are more commonly known!

jmo21
8th May 2014, 10:37
Always worked in open plan offices, so I guess I'm used to it.

Sucks when you have to sit near a loud talker.

I prefer being out in the open though as you can be more involved than if you were locked away, plus you can just stick your headphones in if you need to concentrate.

original PM
8th May 2014, 10:40
if you work in a well designed one it is fine.

ours has 14 floors and a huge central atrium and little to no barriers between the work areas and the central atrium - which you would think would lead to huge amounts of noise

but thanks to modern materials and noise deadening 'white noise' generators rarley does the sounds get above a murmur - and the building houses about 10000

magic!

SpontaneousOrder
8th May 2014, 10:41
I'd hate to work in anything else.

Mich the Tester
8th May 2014, 10:55
I worked down a sewer for a year after leaving poly so most offices are OK for me. One exception; rooms without windows. I don't like that at all; might be a consequence of getting trapped under a manhole for what felt like days but was actually an hour when someone went off for lunch without telling me, for which he recieved summary dismissal from the boss; golden rule in sewage is to never leave a man on his own and never close up the manhole until everyone's been counted in and out. Bloody pillock.

On the whole though I agree that open plan is not such a good idea as it's cracked up to be.

MyUserName
8th May 2014, 11:18
Never really bothers me. I have not noticed any loud talkers or other issues people mention. One bank in London was a bit of hassle because there were so many of us crowded in that you had very little personal space. I could not stretch my arms out without hitting the people either side of me.

vetran
8th May 2014, 11:25
I hate open plan, can never concentrate and everyone walks up and asks stupid questions because I know the answer.

Did a stint in open plan for a year drove me crazy. It seems to be about control & communication,

I have had an office either singular or shared with one other (I have been lucky with my companions) the worst one was where the back stairs were used as a toilet by truck drivers parking outside overnight. My office was by the back stairs on the first floor :mad

Mich the Tester
8th May 2014, 11:27
I hate open plan, can never concentrate and everyone walks up and asks stupid questions because I know the answer.



I have a magic phrase that can help you, but you might need to use it for a couple of weeks before it works. But it will work, and when it does it's a great relief.

vetran
8th May 2014, 11:28
I have a magic phrase that can help you, but you might need to use it for a couple of weeks before it works. But it will work, and when it does it's a great relief.

shut up & invoice?

Mich the Tester
8th May 2014, 11:29
shut up & invoice?

I don't know.

woohoo
8th May 2014, 11:35
I worked in an open plan office, opposite problem from you though. It was deathly quiet, no one spoke at all. I did get lots done but you do need to take a break from your work even if only to have a quick chat or joke with someone. I didn't renew the contract mainly because it was so boring and exhausting to work there.

OwlHoot
8th May 2014, 12:04
Always worked in open plan offices, so I guess I'm used to it.

Sucks when you have to sit near a loud talker. ...

Or worse still a loud cougher.

There's a guy sitting behind me (facing away mercifully) who coughs like a TB victim, and he doesn't even smoke, the sick twat!

A month ago it was practically non-stop all day, although it seems to be improving slightly now and he just has a coughing fit in the afternoon.

I wish he would either just hurry up and get better or else die with a good grace and give us some peace and quiet! :mad

VectraMan
8th May 2014, 12:16
I worked in an open plan office, opposite problem from you though. It was deathly quiet, no one spoke at all. I did get lots done but you do need to take a break from your work even if only to have a quick chat or joke with someone. I didn't renew the contract mainly because it was so boring and exhausting to work there.

It's often like that where I am now. I'd also rather have a bit of background noise and chatter, within reason. It's 8 of us here, but I worked in an open plan office with about 40 people, some of whom were making phone calls all day, and that didn't bother me at all.

CloudWalker
8th May 2014, 12:41
were open plan and have the radio on + free Drinks / Fruit all day :D

Platypus
8th May 2014, 17:58
One bank in London was a bit of hassle because there were so many of us crowded in that you had very little personal space. I could not stretch my arms out without hitting the people either side of me.

Lloyds?

NickFitz
8th May 2014, 19:03
I worked in a place in Bristol where they played GWR 96.3FM in the office; and in the corridors; and in the lifts; and even in the bogs :frown

Then again, it was the studios. At least they put Planet Rock on in our office on Fridays :rolleyes:

SueEllen
8th May 2014, 19:36
I worked in a place in Bristol where they played GWR 96.3FM in the office; and in the corridors; and in the lifts; and even in the bogs :frown

GWR :confused:

Oh you mean Heart Bristol. :rollin:

Bacchus
8th May 2014, 20:13
They suck because there is no where to hide from stupid people, or Dev's are the are more commonly known!

I have the utmost admiration for the way you publish such a snappy and coherent jibe on a public forum to demonstrate your vast intellectual superiority...

Bacchus
8th May 2014, 20:19
In response to the OP, couldn't agree more. open plan offices make for a terrible working environment

I am lucky in that I seem to be able to "zone out" most of the time, and I try and avoid any work that's too challenging :tongue but I do occasionally have to try and do something tricky to a deadline, and the open office environment with people jabbering on can rapidly send the old blood pressure skyward!

d000hg
8th May 2014, 21:46
What kind of programmer can't get into "the zone" and get some work done despite little distractions?

Mulder
8th May 2014, 21:49
Current client has an open plan office, with hot desking (with more than the usual 1.2 people to a desk, not sure of the exact ratio), the hot desks are not bookable, some are unofficially reserved but you don't know til you ask.

So it is a fight in the morning to just get a desk.

Then you have the usual phone calls, meetings at desks, etc

So not a fan of open plan offices either

CheeseSlice
8th May 2014, 22:20
I don't care much for open plan offices unless they're mainly empty. However I've often found they're good when you're the one bothering others for information. :D I don't ask silly questions though. I check every single document available to me until I have to ask people.

I've always had my own desk so far, or managed to get a good hot desk. I even managed to nab a fixed desk at my last contract when other contractors had to continually fight over crappy hot desks that were smaller than usual, or at the end of a row with your back to a busy corridor. One poor guy would always end up with a desk with his back to the swing doors from reception, so not only did he hear everyone stomp through the doors and get a draught of air, everyone got to nose at what he was doing when passing through :suicide:

doodab
9th May 2014, 04:01
What kind of programmer can't get into "the zone" and get some work done despite little distractions?

Little distractions are one thing. A constant barrage of high level noise is quite different and many open plan offices are badly laid out so that you have a very noisy department next to one that needs to concentrate.

It's preety much a science fact that noise means distraction means lower performance on intellectually demanding tasks.

suityou01
9th May 2014, 05:54
Little distractions are one thing. A constant barrage of high level noise is quite different and many open plan offices are badly laid out so that you have a very noisy department next to one that needs to concentrate.

It's preety much a science fact that noise means distraction means lower performance on intellectually demanding tasks.

Good post. And quite right. I'm surprised you fed the crap troll though. :hug:

barrydidit
9th May 2014, 06:51
I worked in a place in Bristol where they played GWR 96.3FM in the office; and in the corridors; and in the lifts; and even in the bogs :frown

Then again, it was the studios. At least they put Planet Rock on in our office on Fridays :rolleyes:

Previous client had this. :mad Plus, TV's on the walls. The nearest one to me was in the breakout area and was set on ITV or C5 or one of those channels and the sound of Jeremy Kyle competing with the radio just boiled my piss. Fortunately, as an early bird, I was in position to turn the damn thing off and hide the remote. :smokin

I don't think i've ever worked anywhere that wasn't open plan though. At the very least 50 people in proximity so unless there is a radio/tv to cause especial annoyance then i'm probably just used to it.

d000hg
9th May 2014, 07:07
Little distractions are one thing. A constant barrage of high level noise is quite different and many open plan offices are badly laid out so that you have a very noisy department next to one that needs to concentrate.

It's preety much a science fact that noise means distraction means lower performance on intellectually demanding tasks.It's science fact that if you look at a large number of people you find productivity drops. But in that large sample size, the majority are probably also distracted talking about what happened in Eastenders last night or what Kim Kardashian has done now. I find external stuff tends to get filtered out when concentrating on something hard and have observed the same in others.


Good post. And quite right. I'm surprised you fed the crap troll though. :hug:All my permie jobs were in open plan offices and it never really bothered me. Maybe I have better ability to focus. Or maybe you just suck.

Dallas
9th May 2014, 07:11
My last few places were like battery farms. I was in early enough to sabotage the desks either side of me sufficient to deter folks ;)

mudskipper
9th May 2014, 07:21
Drives me fecking mental. Gonna go postal one of these days...

VectraMan
9th May 2014, 08:39
One poor guy would always end up with a desk with his back to the swing doors from reception, so not only did he hear everyone stomp through the doors and get a draught of air, everyone got to nose at what he was doing when passing through :suicide:

That's worse. I can't stand people walking behind me, that does stop me getting stuff done. Fortunately at PermieCo I've got a corner suite.

hyperD
9th May 2014, 09:34
That's worse. I can't stand people walking behind me, that does stop me getting stuff done. Fortunately at PermieCo I've got a corner suite.

That reminds me of a past clientco with a twat of a team lead who told me to send an email to someone and then preceded to sit behind me and read out loud as I was typing. It took all of my midi-chlorians to stop me from pummeling his scrawny, twisted, lizard face to a reddy, pulpy mess as though it was some abominable, irritating piñata.

Halo Jones
9th May 2014, 09:45
You should try working in an open plan glorified tin can, stacked on 2 other tin cans in a wind tunnel next to a construction site :tongue

MaryPoppins
9th May 2014, 09:52
That reminds me of a past clientco with a twat of a team lead who told me to send an email to someone and then preceded to sit behind me and read out loud as I was typing. It took all of my midi-chlorians to stop me from pummeling his scrawny, twisted, lizard face to a reddy, pulpy mess as though it was some abominable, irritating piñata.

:laugh

Just worked with someone who did that. Major twathead. She also constantly asked me to 'double check' her incoherent emails before sending, to 'make sure they made sense'.

doodab
9th May 2014, 09:53
It's science fact that if you look at a large number of people you find productivity drops. But in that large sample size, the majority are probably also distracted talking about what happened in Eastenders last night or what Kim Kardashian has done now. I find external stuff tends to get filtered out when concentrating on something hard and have observed the same in others.

All my permie jobs were in open plan offices and it never really bothered me. Maybe I have better ability to focus. Or maybe you just suck.

If I can get paid what I get paid for working at home when I feel like it, I must suck, **** and clean up afterwards. Or maybe I just do more cognitively demanding stuff than you. Or maybe you've never actually been in a position to focus properly so you can't appreciate the difference. Either way you are getting into being a tit territory now.

How does background noise affect our concentration? - Scientific American (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ask-the-brains-background-noise/)

2nd question down


BACKGROUND OR LOW-LEVEL noise in the home, work or school often disrupts people’s concentration. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, ambient noise also affects people’s health by increasing general stress levels and aggravating stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary disease, peptic ulcers and migraine headaches. Continued exposure does not lead to habituation; in fact, the effects worsen.

I've been in good and bad open plan offices. The good ones (which includes the biggest, openest one oddly enough) were perfectly workable, but in the bad ones (which are the majority) it was next to impossible to work on seriously complex tasks during mainstream office hours. Those tend to be the ones where the majority are distracted by last nights TV, or phone calls or whatever because they can't concentrate on their ******* work. I've also been in bad "normal" offices, i.e. with no aircon in 38 degree heat in the south of France, or with a stack of rack servers going full pelt at 80+dBA in the corner.

minestrone
9th May 2014, 10:18
It is not open plan offices that are the problem, it is the insufferable cock jockeys that fill them.

NickFitz
9th May 2014, 10:49
GWR :confused:

Oh you mean Heart Bristol. :rollin:

Still GWR back in 2005 :)

Though the office I worked in was for the network shows, which went to about 45 local stations in the group during the evening and overnight timeslots.

speling bee
9th May 2014, 10:53
It is not open plan offices that are the problem, it is the insufferable cock jockeys that fill them.

You mean other people.

MicrosoftBob
9th May 2014, 11:12
You mean other people.

Hell is other people