Despite the fact that they decrease productivity by at least 15 percent, the number of open plan offices continues to grow apace. Fully 80% of companies have them and there' little sign companies are embracing concepts, like the Pixar Office or the Virtual Office, which might actually increase productivity.
Rather than pulling back on the open plan, many companies are doubling down and implementing "hot desks" where work areas are first-come-first served. This is a conceptual design that's apparently modeled on the high school cafeteria because THAT was SUCH a wonderful experience.
Anyway, since we're with these open plan monstrosities (or worse) for the time being, many employees have realized that 1) they can't expect management to take their heads out of their collective whatevers any time soon, and therefore 2) employees are on their own if they want to ameliorate the misery.
Some workers escape open plan environments by working from home, even though, as Marketwatch points out, remote workers are less likely to be promoted and tend to get smaller raises. Other workers are willing to pay up to $500 a month for membership to work in a less-crowded co-working space.
The most extreme DIY solution to the open plan office, however, is this:
Known as the "Wear Space," the contraption seals off your peripheral vision so that you are less distracted by surrounding visual pollution. It also directs music or white noise into your ears without creating the surface pressure of a wireless, noise-cancelling headset. A Panasonic spokesperson explains:
"As open offices and digital nomads are on the rise, workers are finding it ever more important to have personal space where they can focus. Wear Space instantly creates this kind of personal space - it's as simple as putting on an article of clothing."
Now think about this for a minute. The open plan office was supposed to create a more collaborative environment by increasing the number of seredipitous face-to-face interactions--which is the exact thing that the Wear Space prevents by limiting your field of view.
Crazy. Just plain crazy.