OPINION | Shut the door on open plan

Can we all just agree that the days of open plan everything are over?

The open plan office, where concentration goes to die.

The open plan office, where concentration goes to die.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the open plan office sucks, and this despite the fact that pretty much every single workplace has one.

We all hate it, all right? Stop it.

It’s noisy, it’s distracting, it’s terrible for everything most workplaces are trying to achieve (one-on-one communication - because you can be overheard; creativity and focus - because you can’t concentrate; phone calls - because they annoy people around you; and so on).

Frankly, I’d rather go and sit in my car, and sometimes I do.

I realise that most businesses have already sunk too much cash into this ridiculous setup to change straight away, so in the meantime I suggest the use of individual cones of silence, like in Get Smart. Their time has finally come.

But my hatred of open plan also extends to our homes.

Now I find a pokey old terrace house with a stamp-sized kitchen as annoying as the next person – bash those walls down.

But if you have reasonable-sized rooms then I beg you, save the walls. Save the doors. They are the only things that stand between your coffee machine waking the whole house up at 6am and the smell of cooked fish permeating the couch fabric. 

And no one wants the roar of the dishwasher to ruin their postprandial Netflix session.

Walls and doors are amazingly good at providing sound-proofing, privacy and heat-retention (have you seen the heating bills of some of these factory-sized living spaces?). They’re very underrated inventions.

I get that a large space is more aesthetically pleasing, but actually living in these wastelands is painful, especially if you have a family. One child playing Xbox or Dad settling down to the cricket can dominate the living space of everyone else.

I suggest it’s time to gently close the door on the era of open plan, and finally enjoy some peace and quiet in a room of one’s own.

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