You Thought Cubicles Were Hell? Try 'Open Plan' Offices

open office plan cubicles
open office plan cubicles

By Kelly Eggers

It sure sounded like a good idea.

When Tuft and Lach Law, a small law practice in St. Paul, Minn., opted for open, shared office space, they didn't expect to hate it. After all, numerous academic studies have shown that workers are more productive in open offices and, in the trend-setting tech industry, open plans are standard.

For the law firm, it didn't work out that way. "We had a receptionist and secretary sharing a workstation," said Thomas Tuft. "The one with the biggest voice could be heard on the other's phone calls, and in attorney offices -- by clients on the phone with the attorneys." If two people had to take a call simultaneously, they were forced to whisper.