Via reader David Moore, this article:
Open-plan offices could be making women feel stressed and isolated, research shows.
Over the course of two years, Rachel Morrison, a senior research lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, looked at whether or not open office plans were promoting productivity.
She found an interesting difference between the answers men and women gave.
Let me guess: men couldn’t give a rat’s arse either way and wondered what half the questions even meant, whereas the women bitched at length about every minor annoyance?
“I followed and surveyed 99 employees from a law firm as they were transitioning into an open-plan office space and I started noticing a trend in the answers I was receiving from women in the company,” Morrison said.
While the male employees of the company saw the open-plan office as a positive change, many of the women said they felt “stressed”, “watched” and “judged” in the new layout.
Now there’s a surprise. What’s interesting is this article is from New Zealand which, as William of Ockham can confirm, is about 50 years behind everywhere else when it comes to work practices. Open plan offices are pretty much standard now, and I know of very few companies that still give offices to all but the most senior people (and HR, of course.)
“Those feelings of being watched were only on women’s radar, so many of the women reported feeling watched, viewed or monitored but not a single man did.”
It’s almost as if men and women are fundamentally different, isn’t it?
Overall, she found there were a few negative outcomes in an open-plan office.
“I found relationships between co-workers were negatively affected as well as increased stress for women, which resulted in more sick days and less productivity,” she said.
Alternative headline: Women cannot cope in modern workplace, study finds.
Business psychologist Jasbindar Singh agreed open-plan offices could cause stress.
“Many women feel a certain amount of social pressure from being in an open-plan office to dress and act a certain way because they feel as though they are on display the whole time,” she said.
No doubt this is the fault of company management or, failing that, the patriarchy.
Whether women truly were being watched and monitored in the work place more than men remains to be ascertained, and Morrison said it was beyond the scope of her project.
Oh, I have no doubt they are: by other women. Unless any women are under 27 and hot, the men won’t be watching at all.
Of course, this doesn’t mean all women are uncomfortable in open-plan offices; I’ve been working in them since 2000 and I’m reasonably sure the women didn’t feel undue pressure because they didn’t have their own office. But it’s part of an interesting pattern or women, having demanded equal access to the workplace, finding it’s not to their liking and – inevitably – things must be changed to accommodate them. Here’s another example:
I am so sick of the normalization of drinking at tech related events. I honestly wish I could spend all my time hanging out with other non-drinkers at this point in my life.
— Lindsey 🐉 | ♿ (@techevangelista) June 27, 2018
Here we have a woman joining an industry and then complaining how things are done when she gets there. Note she’s not complaining of sexual harassment, which would be unacceptable, merely about what people choose to do at tech events. If she doesn’t like what she herself says is normal about an industry, why did she join it? To cause trouble?
The thing is, I know a lot of female engineers and many actually like the male dominated environments in which they work. A competent woman in among a bunch of men can have an enjoyable experience indeed, because (according to them) men are simple and easy to understand and there’s no silly competitiveness. They actually prefer to work with other men than women, or so several have told me. Similarly, they entered into engineering and the oil industry because both provided an environment they liked working in. They didn’t join the oil business and then set about complaining how things are done when they got there, they embraced it because that’s what attracted them in the first place.
If women want to engender hostility from men in the workplace, the best way to go about it is to demand access to male-leaning industries and then campaign to get them changed for their benefit as soon as they arrive. I have no doubt they’ll be successful, but whether they’ll be happy with the final result is another matter entirely.