Some news, views and comments about everything and anything, relevant and irreverent.
Views, space and social interaction. Three things that make the open plan office a potential closed shop for productivity. With Britain habitually cited as the lazy bones of the world, has the backlash started? Is the answer to all being in it together actually to all be in our own little workspaces?
It looks like we’ve come full circle. It may have almost passed from memory into history, but time was when the office workspace was very much as it is today - open plan and all on the machine floor together.
The factory may well have almost gone the way of the typing pool and the standing ledger, but, in the service economy of the twenty-first century, space is still money. Walls take up space that could be earning cash. It’s back to open-plan offices with strip lighting all the way to the horizon and call centres every bit as delightful as Blake’s dark satanic mills.
How can an environment like that be productive in the knowledge-driven creative work places of today? The answer is: they can’t. That’s the verdict of analysts who say the age of open plan office hell is over, and we’re about to see yet another swing in workplace fashion.
Futurologists at BT say open plan offices are not just bad for productivity, they’re on the way out. The Daily Telegraph, which opens out to about the same floorspace as the average workstation, says BT experts in data, analytics and emerging technology, predict that large offices will soon die out. They forecast that employees in the future will become ‘shoulder-bag workers’ carrying their offices in backpacks and collaborating in small teams in coffee shops when not working at home.
Tell that to developers, though. All the latest high-tech, high-rise offices are still being designed with open work-floors in mind. After all, space is money, and what business wouldn’t squeeze as many workstations onto the production floor as possible?
It might not be a design trend yet. But we know that more and more professionals are choosing to work for themselves, or work by themselves at home, or being told by their employers to do just that.
The rise in homeworking is making sense for more and more people, and businesses too. Pushing the workforce out of the central office means a smaller floorspace requirement, which not only makes economic sense, it can make productive sense as well.
Getting the job done, at home, on the road, on the train, or on the coffee shop sofa has got to be better than labouring under the fluorescent führer. With tools to track productivity available from app stores, there’s no reason to waste time and effort trudging into a faceless façade.
Of course, we can’t legislate for the homely distractions; caffeine overload, and wifi woes in otherwise sumptuous surroundings, but if it enhances your creativity and productivity while cutting your overhead costs, then we say “‘bean there, done that.”