The ups and downs of an open office


Stagis is looking for a new place to live. We are searching for a new spot in Copenhagen. We love it here at Gasværksvej, where the office have been located for about four years in what used to be an old stable. But to be frank we simply don’t have enough space. And another thing – which actually is the topic for this blogpost – is the open office environment. Pros and cons. Socially an open office is a really great thing. And the open office environment can be a fantastic concept e.g for sharing knowledge. If Nikolaj, Sandra and Anne are discussing some challenges with a client or a case I automatically get in on it because the conversation takes place in the same room I’m in. This gives me a much better understanding of what’s going on in the organization. But there’s a downside as well. It can been very difficult to concentrate in an environment where other people are talking, phoning, playing music or laughing. Suddenly a simple task as writing a text or even reading one takes much more time than necessary. Small interruptions in ones concentration can do much damage. In this perspective the open office environment isn’t a very effective one. Another downside is that the access to each others attention is to easy! When your working in the same room it sometimes mistakenly signals that you are available for questions or new tasks – when you are in fact busy doing something else. This probably happens because presence somehow automatically signals availability. The remaining question of this blogpost is: Aren’t we paying an extremely high price for social gathering and knowledge sharing? Or does the pros of an open office exceed the cons?