I have worked in an office environment for a long time. Going on twenty years in fact. I have worked in a number of different types of environments, but cubicles have been the standard. In fact, in my career I have only had a walled office a couple of times – shared an office for 5 years and a private office for two.  While I was working at the hospital I went back to a cubicle but I was allowed to work from home two days a week. I do miss that.

It seems I have become sensitive to the office as I get older. The noise levels are on the rise, fluorescent lighting and lack of natural light is becoming bothersome, and cubicles/desk space are shrinking. Having a private call usually involves you going out to your car or if you’re lucky, an empty conference room. All in the name of saving a corporate buck? Collaboration?

The modern office environment is lacking

Noise

Noise has got to be the chief complaint in open office environments. Hearing conversations from the across the room is distracting. In some cases, the conversations can get so loud, noise cancelling headphones do little to block out the noise. From doors, to conversations, to the slamming of stuff on the desk, noise is the enemy of deep concentration.

Lighting

With all of the advancements in the modern age, why does office lightning still suck? Florescent lighting is horrible for the eyes when you’re stuck staring at a computer monitor all day. Not that the computer monitor is all that great to stare at for 8 plus hours a day. In fact, in a throw back to Joe vs The Volcano, florescent lighting can suck your will to live.

How is it office building mangers can’t figure out how to maximize natural lighting, or even invest in some warm light LEDs? You can’t tell me saving a few bucks on the energy bill or burning less energy isn’t a good thing? While we’re talking about lighting, could we figure out how to have it a little darker? Not everyone enjoys being basked in light, I personally find it easier to work on a computer in a darker room.

Temperature

Ah yes, here is the most contentious office topic ever. Temperature. I have witnessed more arguments and crankiness over the temperature in the office. Some people prefer it hot, others prefer it cooler, but never is the office zoned correctly. And when teams are forced to sit together, it usually means you’re not going to be comfortable. In fact, that’s usually the only thing people can agree on. I would cite a source, but I do I really need to?

Privacy

Privacy? Yes, I’m aware that I am going to work to work with others on projects but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to make the occasional personal call to schedule doctor’s appointments, or answer the wife’s question(s), or some other trivial matter that I don’t want to share with the office. More importantly, I don’t want to hear other’s people’s calls either – business or personal. Yes I know, go outside or find a conference room but sometimes neither is an option.

It’s not just the phone calls, I hate people walking up behind me. Even worse than that, I hate people looking over my shoulder. Lots of times I am working with sensitive information that they don’t need to see. Sometimes I am goofing off a bit checking the news, sport scores, or looking something up. Do you really need to see what I’m doing? I think not.

We can do better

It’s 2018, we can do better people. HR and accounting need to sit down and work on better work environment. One size does not fit all. This open office trend needs to stop……even die. People, actual living breathing people, have to spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 4 weeks a month, and 48 weeks a year sitting in these environments. They are seeing much in the way of raises, still. Do you think maybe it’s possible that organizations could make work environment a bit better?

The other thing I’ve wondered quite a bit over the years is, if open offices is so great….how come managers never get sacked with them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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