These things annoy Finns the most about the open-plan office

When it comes to workspaces, Finns are the most annoyed by the open-plan office, according to a survey commissioned by workspace expert Technopolis in spring 2024.

Of the respondents working in open-plan offices, nearly half (44%) named the open-plan office as the most annoying thing about the office. The open-plan office is considered to be significantly more annoying than, for example, dysfunctional technical devices (14%), poor availability of meeting rooms (5%), old furniture (3%) or colleagues (3%).

But what exactly are Finns frustrated with regarding the open-plan office? Disruptions or interruptions of work caused by colleagues’ talk (37%) or other noise at the office, such as typing on keyboards, were highlighted in the responses.

The results also showed differences between different age groups. Under-35-year-olds considered quiet working conditions more important compared to older age groups: talk that interrupts working annoys almost half (47%) of under-35-year-old workers but just over a fourth (27%) of over-50-year-old respondents.

“The survey results underscore the importance of mapping the individual needs of each work community and taking them into consideration in the planning of workspaces. Even in open-plan offices, space and furniture solutions, for instance, can be used to create spaces for dedicated focus work and those suited for chatting and brainstorming with colleagues,” says Jaana von Bell, Concept Manager for Workspace and Customer Solutions at Technopolis.

The open-plan office has its benefits

Most of the survey respondents (69%) also identified positives in working in an open-plan office, the most important of which was the possibility of having informal, everyday conversations with colleagues (42%). These conversations were by far the most well-liked aspect of an open-plan office among all age groups, but especially among under-35-year-olds (53%). The corresponding figure for over-50-year-olds was considerably lower at only 34%.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution in workspace planning. For example, some consider talking to colleagues while working as the best thing about an open-plan office, while others see it as the worst aspect. Needs also change as new generations enter the workforce. In fact, it is important to track employees’ experiences and preferences concerning the workspace regularly and to adapt them as needed – not just on the moving day,” Jaana von Bell emphasizes.

Survey highlights:

The five most annoying things about the open-plan office (respondents could select more than one option):

  1. Talking to me when I am trying to focus on my work: 37%
  2. Taking phone calls in an open-plan office: 37%
  3. Loud laughter: 27%
  4. Non-work-related conversations: 25%
  5. Loud typing on a keyboard: 13%

The three most well-liked things about the open-plan office (respondents could select more than one option):

  1. Informal conversations with colleagues: 42%
  2. Quick access to information: 16%
  3. Possibility of getting to know my colleagues well: 8%

Those working in an environment other than an open-plan office were the most annoyed by dysfunctional technical devices (25%). In addition, this respondent group was generally less annoyed by the office: 26% of them stated that nothing in the office annoys them. Correspondingly, only 17% of those working in an open-plan office stated that nothing annoys them.

Sampling and implementation of the survey:

The survey commissioned by Technopolis was implemented using YouGov’s Omnibus online panel in February–March 2024. A total of 1,004 Finns responded to the survey, 55% of whom work in an open-plan office. The sample is a nationally representative sample of adult office workers in terms of age, gender, and region of residence. A comparable survey was also conducted in Sweden and Norway.