Hugh Pickens writes:
Lindsey Kaufman writes in the Washington Post that despite its obvious problems, the open-office model has continued to encroach on workers across the country with about 70 percent of US. offices having no or low partitions. Silcon Valley has led the way with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enlisting famed architect Frank Gehry to design the largest open floor plan in the world, housing nearly 3,000 engineers with a single room, stretching 10 acres, where everyone will sit in the open with moveable furniture. Michael Bloomberg was an early adopter of the open-space trend, saying it promoted transparency and fairness. Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn’t occupying billing hours. But according to Kaufman employers are getting a false sense of improved productivity with a 2013 study showing that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem for them and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy. The New Yorker, in a review of research on this nouveau workplace design, determined that the benefits in building camaraderie simply mask the negative effects on work performance. While employees feel like they’re part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction says Kaufman. "Though multitasking millennials seem to be more open to distraction as a workplace norm, the wholehearted embrace of open offices may be ingraining a cycle of under-performance in their generation," writes Maria Konnikova. "They enjoy, build, and proselytize for open offices, but may also suffer the most from them in the long run."
We have these stupid (sometimes twice) daily conference calls which are completely useless. Everyone around me is cursed with these stupid conference calls, so we have a standard procedure:
1. Put the phone on mute and speakerphone2. Turn the volume down3. Blissfully allow the blather to fade into the background while you do real work.
Since someone almost always is stuck on a conference call nearby, the noise just fades into the background like the HVAC unit. Works surprisingly well and we are all pretty happy with the arrangement. Much better than actual meetings.
I never really got the gig on the B ark crashing on earth with middle managers and telephone sanitizers until we started having these conference calls. Now the phrase "573 committee meetings and you haven't even discovered fire!" takes on an entirely new meaning. Some of our conference calls are numbered, and yes we have had 3 digit numbers on some of them.