Side Note

The open office trend is a magnet for creeps

Open offices are pretty trendy these days, probably because employers believe they foster a collaborative atmosphere. But according to a recent study published in the journal Gender, Work, and Organization, they may be conducive to sexism in the workplace. The study, conducted by Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Bedfordshire in the U.K., focused on a local government moving its 1000 employees from an office with a traditional floorplan to an open one. Speaking with the people who worked there, the researchers observed that the new layout made women employees feel hypervisible and, as a result, self-conscious about their appearance.

Some of them told researchers that they started dressing differently because they felt like their male colleagues were watching them all the time. One woman in the study even said certain men on staff would “mark” how attractive prospective new hires were. And after FastCo Design covered the report, their readers chimed in with similar horror stories, including one anonymous woman who said her boss would follow her around the office and try to flirt with her.

Of course, at the end of the day, a sexist workplace will be sexist regardless of the office’s layout. Ranking women on their hotness and following them around the office them is gross, but men who do this are probably just assholes and will continue to be assholes regardless of what their office looks like. To be clear, though, open offices still suck. Architects of the world, I implore you to put up some walls here and there.