Open offices are terrible. This isn’t news, or even a modern curiosity. What we didn’t know is just how much everyone hates the open office concept, or how many people want to work from home.
In a sampling of over 1,000 working adults in the United States (meant to be “representative of the country’s population”), Bospar and Propeller Insights found 76 percent disliked open offices. Almost half (43 percent) hated the lack of privacy in an open office setting.
Thirty-four percent say they overhear too many personal conversations, which is the side effect of an open office sapping all your privacy. Almost one-third (29 percent) say they simply can’t concentrate, and 23 percent worry “sensitive information” could be leaked to others in the open office, while 21 percent say they just can’t think at all in open offices. Eighteen percent of those unhappy with their current workspace say they’d quit if another company could offer a better environment.
Conversely, 84 percent say they’d like to work from home. The main reason is to avoid commuting (58 percent), while 41 percent think working from home would make them more productive. Thirty-five percent say working from home would make them “more thoughtful,” 20 percent say they’d take on more responsibilities to work from home, and 19 percent would relocate for the option. Five percent would take a pay cut.
That’s some deep disdain for open offices (and a massive nod to work from home) but we’re not surprised. In a Dice survey last year, we found ‘working from home’ to be amongst the most sought-after benefits for tech pros; 28 percent of you said it was the most critical benefit an employer could offer (tied with health benefits).
Underscoring our desire to avoid commuting, a SimpleTexting study from 2018 showed those working from home half the time saved as much as 343 hours per year not sitting in a car or on public transportation. Meanwhile, our most recent Dice Salary survey shows 73 percent of tech pros want to work from home, but only 49 percent have the option, which is a huge gap.
And open offices? Those need to die a quick and painless death. Facebook’s 10-acre HQ plan is the worst example, but Google’s proposed bio-dome thing takes it to a new level. Even Apple’s spaceship is said to have inspired pushback from tech pros at the company, with The Wall Street Journal claiming “coders and programmers are concerned that their work surroundings will be too noisy and distracting.”
Then there’s the horse-blinders Toshiba wants you to strap to your face, which just – no. We’re not doing that. It’s the band-aid solution to a lack of privacy, and we would rather suffer in a cubicle than this face-hugging indignity.
Meanwhile, a behavioral study on open offices may be all the proof we need that the concept is botched. Using a badge with sensors, Royal Society Publishing found face-to-face interactions dipped 70 percent in open offices, and email use increased 56 percent. It underscores that humans, while social creatures, prefer to work in privacy, where they feel free to think critically and be creative. Open offices are simply cost-saving measures that companies have branded as ‘cool’… even as most workers seem to think that working from the couch in sweatpants and showering at lunch is far cooler.