Do You Hate Your Open-Office Layout? Tell Us Why!

Maybe that jerk next to you is chewing ice again, and headphones can't drown out the annoyances. Maybe you feel disrespected and can't concentrate. One thing's for sure: you hate your open office. Tell us why.

"Oh, I have a problem: It’s with open-office layouts."

Those are the words of Fast Company senior editor Jason Feifer, who was recently moved from his private office into the open-office layout that makes up the majority of Fast Company's workspace.

He wasn't happy. In response to the move--and in the spirit of open debate--Feifer penned a piece lambasting the trend of open-office layouts. His thesis finds open workspaces disrespectful to employees, and harmful to workflow:

Every workspace should contain nothing but offices. Offices for everyone. Offices for the junior associate and the assistant editor, and offices for the vice president and the editor-in-chief. Take those long tables, the ones currently lined with laptops at startups, and give them to an elementary school so children can eat lunch on them. We’ll have to do away with all those adorable communal spaces, but they were always a little demeaning, a little not-quite-Starbucks. We won’t need them now that we all have our own meeting place.

Feifer is not alone in his fight. Just this past weekend, a video entitled "The slow death of a cubicle life (part II)" went viral. (Part I it seems has been taken down.)

Take a look for yourselves:

One thing is clear: a lot of people hate open-office layouts.

We want to know why.

Share your open-office pet peeves in the (completely anonymous) Google form below. We want to know why you feel disrespected, what you miss most about being alone at work, and what that obnoxious co-worker does that's driving you to the brink of insanity. The best (or worst) pet peeves will be featured on Fast Company later this month. After all, misery loves company.

[Image: Flickr user Thanakrit Gu]

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17 Comments

  • jamie461

    I spent the last six years working in a cube farm, after having had offices for almost 15 years. Horrible, miserable experience. The constant noise of other people's conversations, the coughing/sneezing/hacking, laughter and gossip, etc. made every day difficult to manage. I got sick much more frequently, could never put my phone on speaker for long conference calls, and had ZERO privacy for those moments when I desperately needed it. The only things a cube farm or open office design facilitate are development of low morale and the spreading of contagious diseases.

  • RazzleD

    We had a company president ask why his people watched the clock all day, waited outside during lunch and left before 5:30pm. He said, there was no other place he would rather be than at the office. He was proud that he worked past 7 and Saturday mornings.

    Well, for starters, you could land a plane in his office without hitting the big screen TV and his private kitchen was stocked, not to mention he had a window and a comfy chair.

  • Sean

    Only closed or only open misses the point.

    Instead, ask "what is the purpose of the work being done, and how can space help facilitate the desired outcomes?"

    One (type of) space for all purposes/outcomes is more than likely to be sub-optimal.

  • Charles

    He wasn't happy. In response to the move--and in the spirit of open debate--Feifer penned a piece lambasting the trend of open-office layouts. His thesis finds open workspaces disrespectful to employees, and harmful to workflow:

  • patinthecity

    As an interior design student, I have spent the the last two years being fed the concept of "open-floor" office design and/or "collaborative zones" and/or "no hierarchy = no private office rooms" and blah, blah blah. Everytime I visit a prominent design firm in Manhattan, it's usually exactly that: OPEN!! It's so chaotic to me and I truly don't think it encourages collaboration no more than a divided floor space. I am determined to put an end to this once I graduate and (God willing) get hired. Of course, I would never lead on to a firm my hate for openspace.

  • Charles

    He wasn't happy. In response to the move--and in the spirit of open debate--Feifer penned a piece lambasting the trend of open-office layouts. His thesis finds open workspaces disrespectful to employees, and harmful to workflow:

  • Charles

    It's also difficult to identify exactly where one employee's personal space ends and another begins.

  • Charles

    Those are the words of Fast Company senior editor Jason Feifer, who was recently moved from his private office into the open-office layout that makes up the majority ofFast Company's workspace.

  • Charles

    what you miss most about being alone at work, and what that obnoxious co-worker does that's driving you to the brink of insanity.

  • Charles

    Every workspace should contain nothing but offices. Offices for everyone. Offices for the junior associate and the assistant editor, and offices for the vice president and the editor-in-chief. Take those long tables, the ones currently lined with laptops at startups, and give them to an elementary school so children can eat lunch on them. We’ll have to do away with all those adorable communal spaces, but they were always a little demeaning, a little not-quite-Starbucks. We won’t need them now that we all have our own meeting place.

  • Vivian Lee

    I think it's important to clarify that there are different types of open-office. A full-wall cubicle space at a corporate office isn't going to be the same as the long tables common at small tech startups. For me, I hate the no-wall, table setup because there are just too many distractions. It's also difficult to identify exactly where one employee's personal space ends and another begins. I love the full-wall cubicle space as it is exactly that - a SPACE that I own and can use. I have my own drawers, walls, shelves, etc.

  • Charles

    Share your open-office pet peeves in the (completely anonymous) Google form below. We want to know why you feel disrespected, what you miss most about being alone at work, and what that obnoxious co-worker does that's driving you to the brink of insanity. The best (or worst) pet peeves will be featured on Fast Company later this month. After all, misery loves company.

  • CultureisEverything

    I think this issue starts more with culture and our own personal perceptions of our work. If you don't like open offices, maybe there is a problem with your company's culture.