Open office spaces have benefits or advantages. However, in certain situations and from another perspective, this floor plan configuration has limitations or problems and disadvantages affecting both individual employees and in general, the organization involved.
The Criticism and Disadvantages of Open Office Spaces: What is Bad About Them?
1. Distraction is one of the disadvantages of open office spaces or an open-plan workspace. For certain types of people, including introverts, overstimulation from human interactions, noises from computers and other productivity devices, and visuals from human movements, among others, can induce stress and anxiety. Distraction can negatively affect the performance of these individuals.
2. There is also an issue about privacy. The absence of partitioning means easy access to files, as well as the personal space of an individual employee. Eavesdropping is also inevitable. It is important to note that there are organizations that need to observe practices in promoting data and individual privacy to protect the interest of their customers and employees. In addition, certain jurisdictions have laws for maintaining employee privacy.
3. Another disadvantage of open office spaces is that it is not suitable for certain tasks, especially those that require a high degree of concentration. Examples include creative jobs such as writing and graphic design, as well as problem-solving ones such as computer programming or data analytics. Distractions and the lack of privacy can negatively affect the productivity of employees working on these tasks.
4. There are individuals who might feel they are under strict supervision because of the absence of personal space and thus, privacy. The lack of a sense of autonomy or independence can drive down the morale of these employees because they think that their supervisors or employers do not trust them enough. Remember that there are people who work best when left alone or with minimal supervision.
5. Health issues collectively represent another problem concerning open office spaces. Distractions and the absence of privacy can induce stress and anxiety, thus resulting to other health issues such as raised blood pressure levels and mental distress. Furthermore, the closer interactions due to the absence of partitions can promote the transmission and spread of germs responsible for influenza and the common cold.