I've been in the white collar workforce since 1999. Everywhere I have worked has had the ridiculous open office concept that was designed to foster a sense of community. The only sense of community I've ever felt was gross intrusion, no privacy, uninformed and unsolicited feedback, constant interruptions, and knowing the my coworker's house in Philadelphia wouldn't sell for months.
And I'm not the only one who is currently going crazy.
In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers' attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation.
Color me shocked.
Not only that, but in my experience, the lack of physical boundaries translated to the lack of emotional boundaries. I can't tell you how many coworkers were under the impression that we were all friends too and therefore private personal conversations were up for debate. I'm already annoyed with "consultants" hammering home the idea that everyone has to be BFF in order to have productive team building, but I didn't really need to know that my coworker has trauma issues. (That made me less productive actually.)
My bosses also had no sense of privacy or understanding when it came to my personal space. They thought nothing of barging into whatever conversation or project I was in the middle of to give me information that justcouldn'tfuckingwait. Additionally, because my desk was right out there in the open, bosses and coworkers alike thought nothing of looking at whatever was on my desk and commenting on it. (Ironically one of my last boundary-challenged bosses -hated- it when people walked in her office or sat at her desk or didn't "respect [her] space.")
But I doubt the open office concept will ever change. Having cube farms is a lot more cost efficient and space efficient than individual offices. Plus having an office with a door denotes some power, and said power must be doled out selectively.
When will bosses, consultants, and other workplace "experts" learn that leaving workers the fuck alone translates to higher productivity and better job satisfaction? Why do we all have to be friends all the time?