Open-plan Offices: Not Such a Good Idea?
Although open-plan workspaces are becoming a norm for most South Africans companies, a recent CareerJunction survey found out that office workers are more likely to prefer closed or sectioned-off spaces to avoid stress triggers, interruptions and background noises.
More than 70% of the 2000 surveyed workers who use open-plan desks in their companies are uncertain or ambivalent about the benefits of the open-plan working space, believing it causes more harm and stress than good in the workplace.
Focus and privacy before collaboration
Although open-plan offices are intended to increase collaboration among workers, most South Africans interviewed prefer to get their work done in peace, away from distractions and interruptions, and seem to value privacy more than open interaction.
Over two-thirds of office workers who participated in the survey admitted that they struggle to focus on their work tasks, while 60% mentioned they do not have any option to work in private and undisturbed by colleagues aside from the open desk.
As a result, an overwhelming number of workers chose to wear headphones to cancel out the background noise, and only approach other colleagues if urgent or necessary. Three-quarters of respondents admitted they wouldn’t bother colleagues in emails or instant messages unnecessarily.
Conflict management and office politics
The open-plan work desk situation amplifies major irritating factors in the office, such as personal phone calls, annoying ringtones, colleagues arriving late for work or meetings, inappropriate use of language, office gossip and office politics.
Given the proximity of their colleagues, most workers in this environment chose to handle conflicts with a co-worker by going directly to the co-worker instead of approaching a manager first or the HR department, which could cause further damage to the relationship.
By far, the most affecting and propagating behaviours in the open-plan office remain office gossip and politics, conflicts, favouritism, and the invasion of one’s private space.
The CareerJunction study was meant to explore office habits and main office stress triggers across South Africa.
Professional Sourcing is a top-tier South African-based recruitment agency operating internationally, IPM accredited, LEVEL 2 BEE RATED and 51% Black Owned.
Our agency specialises in professional placements (senior and specialist talent) and exclusive skills recruitment to a wide range of industries, including JSE’s top 100 companies, SMEs and the Public Sector.
Our agency specialises in professional placements (senior and specialist talent) and exclusive skills recruitment to a wide range of industries, including JSE’s top 100 companies, SMEs and the Public Sector. -- Patricia Koekemoer