Open plan offices have become the talk of tech town over the past few years. From Mark Zuckerberg to Tim Cook, many of today’s hottest tech company leaders are shouting praises for open, communicative workspaces in which everyone is at the same level.
Advocates claim open plan offices increase collaboration and networking, reduce construction costs, and break down hierarchical barriers, however, while open plan design may have taken many companies in Palo Alto by storm, in recent years there has been a backlash too. Many employees have claimed there is a lack of privacy, noise pollution, and overexposure to distracting conversations or informal meetings. Reports have also emerged of an “ambient sexism” that come from women in open offices feeling overexposed and subject to scrutiny.
In fact, when it comes to inclusivity and diversity within an office space, design can be utilized to promote these values. Preventing workplace bias by putting up walls does not attack the root of the problem, only cultural change and training can fundamentally combat such issues.