[One of my favorite Jedi mind-tricks of recent times: The "All-Over" I did for Cisco Cloud. Click on image to enlarge etc.]
It was just a matter of time before we’d hear some serious backlash against the Open-Plan office. From Fast Company’s Jason Feifer: “OFFICES FOR ALL! WHY OPEN-OFFICE LAYOUTS ARE BAD FOR EMPLOYEES, BOSSES, AND PRODUCTIVITY”.
Oh, I have a problem: It’s with open-office layouts. And I have a solution, too: Every workspace should contain nothing but offices. Offices for everyone. Offices for the junior associate and the assistant editor, and offices for the vice president and the editor-in-chief. Take those long tables, the ones currently lined with laptops at startups, and give them to an elementary school so children can eat lunch on them.
I totally get his point (I work in an open-plan environment myself, albeit I have my own business and could have my own private, closed-plan office if I wanted). That being said, we also have a couple of private offices on the side for when people need peace and quiet… and alone time.
The fact is, sometimes we need people around us to get anything done, sometimes we need absolute quiet and privacy. It changes, often many times a day. Our brains are hard-wired for constant environmental flux, that’s why we get bored so easily.
To me the argument is not really about Open or Closed, the argument is really about fluidity: What people really need are work environments that allow them to flip in between “private” and “collaborative”, “quiet” and “noisy” work modes in as fluid a manner as possible. An environment that allows for this ever-constant “brain change”.
As any decent neuro-consultant will tell you, our brains are hard-wired to play tricks on us, therefore we need work environments that play tricks back. That’s what good office design does.
[P.S. Yes, a good piece of office art can be as good a Jedi mind trick as any other; yes, that’s why I got into the business...]
[Got a good "Office Art" story? firstname.lastname@example.org]