Main image of article Like an Open Office? You're Probably a Millennial

Those who identify as Generation Z or Millennial prefer open offices, while Baby Boomers would rather work from home, according to a recent report by Plantronics.

More than half of the younger crowd (55 percent) would rather be in an open office, replete with its noise and distractions; 52 percent said they were “more productive” in such an environment. Essentially, the younger a respondent, the more they wanted that open office feeling.

Meanwhile, 60 percent of Baby Boomers would rather have a quiet space, such as their own office (four walls! what a concept!) or working from the privacy of their home. The report claims older professionals may hate open offices because they are right don’t deal with distractions well enough. They used headphones to block outside noise half as often as younger professionals, and used quiet open spaces for work far less. The report also claims: “Three times as many Boomers than Gen Z workers admit to not finding a solution to their open office distractions.”

But that doesn’t mean open offices are perfect, or even close. From Poly’s press release:

Notably, the survey results show that nearly three in four people would work in the office more – and be more productive – if employers would do more to reduce workplace distractions, providing a clear opportunity for IT, HR, and Facilities to collaborate. Nine out of 10 respondents say they get frustrated by distractions on phone or video calls and the majority of employees who rely on phone and video conferencing during the day say that distractions could be minimized with better technology (56 percent) and the elimination of background noise (56 percent). More than half of employees say that their organization can reduce office distractions by establishing quiet spaces or zones, setting guidelines on appropriate noise levels and changing the office layout.

So, reduce distractions by establishing quiet spaces, which is essentially what a traditional office is. Got it.

(Or maybe “quiet spaces” and headphones is coded language for those horse blinders Panasonic made, or the virtual reality desktop.)

Most other studies show most professionals would rather work anywhere but an office. In our Dice Salary Survey, the ability to work from home was among the most sought-after benefits. In a separate study via Dice Insights, we found remote work tied with health benefits as the most desired perk amongst tech professionals.

Last year, a survey by GoToMeeting also suggested companies should embrace remote, flexible schedules to allow employees to remain productive. Taking a look at how personal activities such as social media and online shopping can affect productivity, Goto wrote: “Empowering employees with the ability and technology to work remotely or on a flexible schedule can drastically improve how they’re balancing their personal activities at work, and vice versa.”

The happy medium may be the “activity-based workplace design,” which melds open spaces with private rooms for those times you need to focus and get work done. It’s not a perfect solution, but it at least lets you find a hiding spot to code or power through your inbox (and avoid the distractions of a possibly-toxic workplace).