I was visiting a friend at a Fortune 500 company’s downtown San Francisco office. I saw a young man wandering around playing Pokemon Go. Annoying as that was, the office was more distracting. The company had ripped out its cubicles and replaced them with what they called an open floor plan. It consisted of six conference tables with ten people crowded around each, jostling their laptops and big screens. They were shouting over each other just to talk on their own phones. It reminded me of TV’s Mad Men, except that at least in that show the employees had their own desks.
My friend apologized about the bedlam as we rode the elevator down to the street. They said the worst part about the open office was the inability to adjust the desk height for different people. The poor ergonomics were hurting their backs. They complained to management and considered suing for reasonable accommodation, but decided to go work for a competitor who not only paid more money but still had cubicles.
Another friend in the East Bay hated their new open office affect on productivity. Their old cubicles had three large screens to display all the information they needed to make split second decisions. There was only room for two screens in the new open office. Now they had toggle between windows on the remaining screens, causing them to miss important data. Management did not seem to care about the literal loss of one third of their company’s income. My friend is updating their resume.
A South Bay company has squeezed employees jostling elbows trying to use their laptops. More than one employee wears noise cancelling headphones like they wear at an airport. Unfortunately they miss phone calls which slows important decision making.
One of my friends recommended a Pokemon Open Office where people would work at home and the management could create whatever virtual hellish work environment they want while the employees create their own and actually get something done.
Copyright 2016 DJ Cline All rights reserved.