A Not-So-Hot Office Layout

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Dropbox -- or at least one of their bloggers -- takes on the question of what to do about the rightly hated "open office." The article starts off well enough, ticking off the many well-documented problems with open offices. But then, judging from some of the comments at Hacker News, the article then proceeds to tick off many of its readers by suggesting an alternate office plan many of them have problems with:

Maybe it's better than this, but that's not saying much. (Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash)
No designated desks. Today's mobile communication tools allow people to work from anywhere, opening up the entire building as a potential workplace. You may want the buzz of energy that a cafe or atrium can provide. Other times, you may find that setting up shop in the fresh air can lead to fresh perspectives. Moreover, according to the architecture and design firm Gensler, "employers who offer choice in when and where to work have workers who are 12% more satisfied with their jobs and report higher effectiveness scores."

These kinds of setups -- where people have the autonomy to work in the areas that best suit their tasks and temperaments at any given moment -- may just be what offices need. With them, companies can finally achieve the freedom and exchange of ideas promised by the original open office of the 1950s. And that can give us something we can all agree on: workplaces that work for all employees. [formatting and link in original]
Yes. It's "hot desking," and I've commented on it here, although it was to note the increased chance of theft of personal items such a setup brings with it. Many of the gripes against hot-desking regarded the fact that the setup makes customizing an office (with something like a standing desk) more difficult, and can leave workers without a real home base when they're at work. Lockers can partly remedy the second problem, and it appears that the market is hard at work on the first (such as with portable stands that can convert a traditional desk to a standing one). That said, the discussion there leaves me with the impression that I am not alone in being highly skeptical of this idea.

-- CAV

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