Sunday, May 17, 2020

Why Open Offices Will Survive

Sarah Green Carmichael writes at Bloomberg:
“[The open office] has really been with us since the 1960s, and some would say even earlier than that,” says Kaufmann-Buhler. The earliest iterations go back to the late 19th century and look much like they do today: rows of desks in large, open spaces.

Open plans “are never going away,” says [Jennifer Kaufmann-Buhler, an assistant professor at Purdue University and author of the forthcoming “Open Plan: A Design History of the American Office.”], though they’ve been “declared dead so many times.” Every time she sees a headline announcing as much, she thinks to herself, “Ah, the open plan is dead, long live the open plan.”

That’s because it’s a design that’s extremely cost effective. It’s not just the lack of walls, or the number of people you can pack in. It’s that private offices require more of everything — doors, ventilation ducts, energy consumption. Plus, open workspaces let in more light, and allow you to easily make eye contact with colleagues — something I find I miss about the Bloomberg offices these days.

And open plans are adaptable, whether it’s a Mad Men-era secretarial pool or a modern-day coworking space. You can easily add (or subtract) workers, and rearrange desks and other equipment as needed. In fact, that flexibility is what companies are going to be relying on now, as they push desks further apart, add panels or partitions and commandeer large communal spaces, like conference rooms, for other purposes.

1 comment:

  1. The downside is the noise level. Makes it much harder to concentrate and focus especially in an accounting or analysis job.
    Less efficient.
    It's not ideal for everything.