Daily torture in the form of an open office

03 September 2018 | Columns

Julienne van Rooyen - I will never understand the concept of open office plans. As many as forty people all sitting less than one meter from each other on the same floor, with no personal space of their own, is just a disaster waiting to happen.

Just in this last week I have had to listen to countless torturous telephonic conversations that are irrelevant and have absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. Excuse me if I thought we were all here to work. I don't want to know about your dog that got out of the yard and bit somebody, but how you believe that he is innocent until proven guilty. I have absolutely zero interest in what type of crazy diet you are on this week, and how many kilograms you lost, nor do I care about all the minute details of the birthday party you are planning to throw for your child, or that your husband now feels neglected because all your attention that is going to the children. I think that by now I know more about the personal details of a few individuals than of my own family.

At this point I feel like pulling out both my eardrums but what would that help? I still have to sit through the continuous torture of all the smells at the office coming my way. Just because you like a particular brand of cologne, does not mean that everyone around you has to be exposed to it, breathing it in while you generously spray it all over yourself at your office table every morning.

Let's not even mention the smells of certain foods that I am exposed to on a daily basis or on an empty stomach. I am a relatively stable individual, but have daydreamt about ripping out somebody's hair when listening to them chew open mouthed on a piece of bubblegum. It's pure torture!

Let's not even get into the issue of all the germs floating around on a daily basis. Someone is constantly coughing or sneezing, and if I can smell your morning breath from where I'm sitting, I'm sure that by next week I'll be sharing whatever bug you are carrying at the moment. I also feel that it is a necessity that certain departments should have their own private offices. I don't want to sit and try to discuss an issue I have with my HR department when there are at least twenty people around me at any given time. I also do not feel comfortable discussing an issue with my manager with another twenty people around hearing every detail of the conversation.

Maybe it's just me and maybe I'm the only one that believes in a little bit of personal space and being able to actually concentrate on my work and not spend the majority of my day being dragged into gossip about Suzie in accounts who picked up some weight and has a strange sense of style.