Poll: Are you a fan of the open-plan office?

Workers in the Department of Health are not.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

SOME COMPANIES DON’T believe in walls.

In the case of Globex, the dubious corporation run by occasional Simpsons character Hank Scorpio, a bemused Homer was stumped when he was asked to hang up the boss’s coat in the open-plan office.

While Scorpio’s gag managed to get a laugh, civil servants at the Department of Health find workplaces without walls less than amusing.

It was reported by the Sunday Business Post that workers in the department are hesitant about moving into a new open-plan office on Baggot Street – because they’re worried their co-workers will distract them.

An architect’s report prepared for the Association of Higher Civil & Public Servants said that without walls, the office at Miesian Plaza would resemble a call centre.

“A cluster of more than four workstations cannot be deemed as providing a satisfactory working environment,” it said. “The potential for distraction and interruption of concentration in six- and eight-person clusters cannot be overestimated.”

Just last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that some execs are ditching the open-plan office because they can’t hack the chatter from their colleagues and have nowhere to field private calls.

However, like beanbags and ping-pong tables, the open-floor office is something of a must-have for young firms. Some argue that the absence of cubicles makes senior staff more approachable and encourages creativity.

When Fora visited Squarespace’s office in Dublin, our guide showed how the former executives’ offices on the fourth floor were scrapped for a “collaboration space”.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers: Are you a fan of the open-plan office?