Open plan office causes irritation

A poll about hot-desking by the WUR Council at the end of February got a response from 656 people. Almost 90 per cent of them would rather work in a small space of their own than share a larger space. They associate hot-desking with working in a noisy open plan office.
The large open plan offices in Radix have been a source of irritation since the building was opened in 2009. Photo: Marte Hofsteenge

The WUR Council sometimes asks staff for their views on dilemmas through the intranet. This time the dilemma was: would you rather have a small desk of your own or a more spacious flexible workplace? The idea behind this was: when staff have their own personal desks, they often stand unoccupied, and hot-desking creates more space for the staff present. But the results of the poll were clear: 574 of the 656 respondents would rather have their own desk.


Organizer Sabine Vreeburg of the WUR Council is not sure how to interpret this poll, though. ‘From the comments it is obvious that many staff associate hot-desking with an overcrowded, noisy open plan office in which it is impossible to concentrate on your work or conduct a long phone call. Perhaps that is why most of the responders prefer a desk of their own.’ The poll is not a representative survey, Vreeburg stresses. ‘There might be a need for one.’


There has long been dissatisfaction with the large open plan offices in Radix, where up to 20 or 30 PhD students sit together in a room. Of the 91 staff of the Plant Sciences Group who responded to the poll, 88 voted for a small desk of their own. But even in other Science Groups, there was a clear majority in favour of a personal workplace: 74 to 11 in Animal Science, 42 to 10 in Social Sciences. Neither of these groups have open plan offices in Wageningen.


Irritation about the workplace runs particularly high among PhD students, as is shown by the nearly 200 responses to the poll that came in through Young Wageningen. A big majority of these responders opted for a work station of their own.

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