The last rites have been read. The obituary writers are getting their ink ready. Yes, the humble office has finally bitten the dust…we should all toast what once was and give a resounding groan for what has risen forth.
After all, why spoil a simple premise that’s worked for centuries, if not millennia? If it was good enough for Caesar and King Tut, then it’s good enough for a receding thirty-something who enjoys the odd game of paper basketball.
IT SOUNDED GOOD AT THE TIME…
The fact is that modern life (whisper it), is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Not when people get together to watch a PowerPoint presentation every half hour to try and reinvent the wheel. Offices nowadays are all about being open and sharing. Yes, a space where harmony spreads its wings and throws down rainbows on all who work around the happy perimeter. Well, that’s the thinking anyway. An open office layout is even supposed to give productivity a kick up the backside. An office that is as open as an airplane hangar is meant to instil a sense of camaraderie and fuse together a melting pot of glorious ideas.
Now this may sound like the musings of some bitter cynic who’s had a few too many bad experiences with the boss recently, but open plan offices are simply wrong in lots of ways. About the only positive is that they probably save a few trees lives with the wood that’s spared from creating walls. But listen here, my friend. I say that walls are good, walls can be great and they are the key to golden ideas taking shape.
This open plan-ness is starting to take over other parts of our society too. Banks have torn down their cubicles, restaurant chains want everyone to sit squashed on hard benches and pretend to enjoy each others conversations and accidental elbow prods. The agencies have caught the bug the worst though. Venture into a travel, job or estate agents and you won’t see a wall in sight.
You see, privacy is not to be sneered at or something to fear. Modern society wants to feel free, but blowing our office walls away actually harms the way we work.
QUIT ALL THAT CHITTER CHATTER
Think about it – do you focus more on your own in a quiet setting, or in the office equivalent of an Ibiza airport lounge? Silence is golden – an old adage that couldn’t be truer where offices are concerned. I would bet all the food in my fridge that people would reach their deadlines quicker in a cubicle, rather than in an open-plan office. Interruptions are the bane of anyone with their heads down and in the zone. After all, we humans love to interact and chat. Now that’s great, but save it for the lunch break, not when I’m trying to get some work finished.
Where’s that wall when you need it? If I had one, I’d bash my head against it because of the constant interruptions and minor distractions, like the coffee machine whirring or the tippy tapping of a pen, or of a mention of Spurs losing at the weekend. This kind of environment actually does the reverse of what the egg heads that gave birth to it thought would happen. It makes people seek other ways of isolation – namely, ear phones. Blocking out the noise is one thing, but then you have to work with music in your ears and that can be just as off putting in its own way. All the while, stress is building and those deadlines are looking ominous.
ANY WAY BACK NOW?
So, forcing people to work in a wide open proximity is a grand failed experiment of the highest order. A big, old money saving, barnstorming, blue cloud derived con.
What we need is a drive back to the future.
There is hope fortunately and a viable alternative to the ‘open revolution’. It comes in the form of serviced offices, where you can easily rent a space for your business and have it tailored to your need. Here, there are walls (hallelujah) and quietness and every mod con you could wish for. Send Business Centre are leaders in providing quality serviced offices that buck the trend.
The resistance has begun; walls are your friend, so go and bag one and ditch the earplugs.