The Development Source

Want to Be a Better Proposal Professional? Don’t Work in a Open-Office Environment

To a great extent, your workplace environment helps determine you productivity. Hands down, probably the worst environment for a proposal professional – or anybody else – is an open-office environment.

According to a recent study from the International Facility Management Association, about 70 percent of U.S. companies have no or low partitions. In other words, their employees are working in an open-office environment. Google, Yahoo, eBay, American Express, and Goldman Sachs all have open-office environments, and Facebook had architect Frank Gehry design an open-office floor plan for almost 3,000 engineers, the largest of its kind in the world. In politics, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg redesigned closed- into open-office space for municipal employees that he called the “Bullpen.”

Companies love the open-office environment because it saves space and money and enables them to keep subtle but close eyes on their employees. They also claim that it builds camaraderie and encourages social interaction and team-building.

However, employees overwhelmingly complain that the open-office environment is noisy, distracting, and lowers their productivity. It is difficult to be productive when people around you are talking, answering their cell phones, or listening to something on their computers or headphones. In one study, researchers concluded that “noise distraction” was doubled in open- compared to closed-office environments.

Ironically, private offices are more likely to encourage social interaction, greater productivity, and team-building because most people need privacy in order to think, work, and talk with colleagues. It is easier to be a proposal professional when you have walls and a door. Without sound and visual privacy, most of us have trouble paying attention.

My advice is very simple: unless it is a short, temporary assignment, I would not work in a proposal war room or in an open-office environment. Your productivity is likely to decline along with your sense of job satisfaction.

As a proposal professional, you deserve a dignified work environment that enables you to perform at your best. Open-office floor plans are little more than white-collar sweatshops.

And if your supervisor disagrees, pose this question: if open-office environments are so great, why do senior management always have offices with walls and doors? Do you need privacy any less than they do?

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