On the table was the diagram of an ‘open-plan’ office layout. You know the sort… little rabbit hutches, sorry… work stations—set across a large warehouse style ‘floor’,
The argument wasn’t about this particular style of office versus a more ‘traditional’ arrangement of individual offices for management and larger but still not too large areas for sets of ten or so employees at the most. No… open plan offices were already an embedded part of the culture.
It was in fact about the height of the screens around the work stations.
Now… that might seem petty, but my friend wanted the screens to be tall. He wanted this because his work demanded a high level of concentration over long periods of time and he knew this requirement would be compromised by the distractions low screens would expose him to.
The ‘other side’ were advancing all sorts of arguments about improved communication, better informed staff and natural light levels. Of course, they were peddling the party line within earshot of the department manager. So, a political dynamic to an increasingly tense situation.
My take? Well, this contretemps, while trivial, reflects in my opinion some of the idiocy prevalent in modern corporate life. Leaders all demand maximum efficiency one day and often embrace and espouse the latest management thinking or business doctrine that actually gets in efficiency’s way the next.
I will leave my full views on open place offices for another blog entry, because I know you’re keen to discover the outcome of the argument. Well… high screens! And retained concentration levels for my friend. Just shows that common sense can prevail—sometimes.
Is effectiveness in your organization being sacrificed at the high altar of corporate political correctness and fashion?
Tags: blog entry business doctrine common sense concentration levels contretemps distractions earshot high altar idiocy life leaders little rabbit long periods of time maximum efficiency office layout political correctness rabbit hutches screens tense situation traditional arrangement warehouse style