Homeless at work: Why companies micromanage where workers sit - New York News

Homeless at work: Why companies micromanage where workers sit

Updated:

By: Michael De Groote, Deseret News

It is musical chairs time at work, and researchers love it. Employees less so.

The Wall Street Journal says the next step in office culture involves eliminating personal space: "In recent years, many companies have moved toward open floor plans and unassigned seating, ushering managers out of their offices and clustering workers at communal tables. But some companies - especially small startups and technology businesses - are taking the trend a step further, micromanaging who sits next to whom in an attempt to get more from their employees."

For example, the article says, putting people together who are in the same department can "foster focus and efficiency." On the other hand, mixing up employees can "lead to innovation."

An earlier article in The Wall Street Journal talks about how furniture makers are "racking up sales" by touting "newer office layouts can encourage collaboration and, in some cases, shrink their space requirements and costs."

The spaces may be more familiar to Millennials. "Younger workers were accustomed to using wireless devices in settings like coffee shops," the Journal says, "where they could move around and chat, rather than being tethered to workstations."

The Journal looked at research by furniture maker Herman Miller that found "many cubicles are used for only a bit more than a third of the workday, and individual offices can sit empty 80 percent of the time."

Not everybody likes this open life at work, however.

A New York Times article says people want their space: "The walls have come tumbling down in offices everywhere, but the cubicle dwellers keep putting up new ones. They barricade themselves behind file cabinets. They fortify their partitions with towers of books and papers."

Or they use sound-canceling headphones to get their privacy. Some buildings even incorporate sound-masking "pink noise" to reduce office noise, the New York Times says, "a soft whooshing emitted over loudspeakers that sounds like a ventilation system but is specially formulated to match the frequencies of human voices."

"The original rationale for the open-plan office," the New York Times says, "aside from saving space and money, was to foster communication among workers, the better to coax them to collaborate and innovate. But it turned out that too much communication sometimes had the opposite effect: a loss of privacy, plus the urgent desire to throttle one's neighbor."

The type of office space that works best may depend upon the type of industry, according to Computerworld: "(M)any high-tech employees prefer to work in solitude, or at least in an environment quiet enough to foster intense concentration for significant chunks of time. Are these trendy open office layouts torture to the techie brain?"

Another factor to consider in office productivity is light, according to Health Insurance and Protection Daily: "Office workers who sit next to the window as they work are often more productive than colleagues who spend the day further away from daylight. Scientists say that sitting next to the office window could in fact double workers' alertness and make them happier."

One contradiction to the open-shifting-mix-'em-around-to-make-more-collaboration trend was outlined in an article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology: "Open-plan office layout is commonly assumed to facilitate communication and interaction between co-workers, promoting workplace satisfaction and team-work effectiveness. On the other hand, open-plan layouts are widely acknowledged to be more disruptive due to uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy. … Enclosed private offices clearly outperformed open-plan layouts … particularly in acoustics, privacy and the proxemics issues. Benefits of enhanced 'ease of interaction' were smaller than the penalties of increased noise level and decreased privacy resulting from open-plan office configuration."

In other words, the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.

For now, however, the trend is marching forward, according to the Wall Street Journal. Until the next trend.


Original Post

Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • NJ girl accidentally kills gun instructor

    NJ girl accidentally kills gun instructor

    Friday, August 29 2014 1:24 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:24:19 GMT
    A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use a fully automatic Uzi. Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.
    A 9-year-old girl from New Jersey accidentally killed an Arizona shooting instructor as he was showing her how to use a fully automatic Uzi. Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl at the Last Stop outdoor shooting range when she pulled the trigger and the recoil sent the gun over her head, investigators said.
  • Victim's family feels sorry for girl who shot him

    Victim's family feels sorry for girl who shot him

    Friday, August 29 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-08-29 17:19:45 GMT
    The ex-wife of an Arizona shooting range instructor accidentally killed by a 9-year-old girl learning to use an Uzi said Friday that her family plans to write the child a letter to comfort her.  Instructor Charles Vacca was standing next to the girl on Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger.
    The ex-wife of an Arizona shooting range instructor accidentally killed by a 9-year-old girl learning to use an Uzi said Friday that her family plans to write the child a letter to comfort her.  Instructor Charles Vacca was standing next to the girl on Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger.
  • NYC Denny's features $300 breakfast

    NYC Denny's features $300 breakfast

    Friday, August 29 2014 8:47 AM EDT2014-08-29 12:47:22 GMT
    Diner chain Denny's is opening it's first New York City location, complete with a big-city "deal".   How does a $300 breakfast sound?    The Denny's is located at the corner of Nassau and Spruce in Lower Manhattan's Financial District.  Along with its normal food you can get at just about any location in the rest of the country, this location will offer a Grand Slam breakfast with a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon champagne.
    Diner chain Denny's is opening it's first New York City location, complete with a big-city "deal".   How does a $300 breakfast sound?    The Denny's is located at the corner of Nassau and Spruce in Lower Manhattan's Financial District.  Along with its normal food you can get at just about any location in the rest of the country, this location will offer a Grand Slam breakfast with a bottle of 2003 Dom Perignon champagne.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices