There have been a number of recent articles that point to the ills of open office space. These often take a Fox News approach (no relation) which is often myopic and fails to adequately balance the conversation. As an industry, about 5 years ago we went way too open. Now we realize that we need to have quiet spaces to balance that - Collaboration has become a very generic word - we collaborate and interact in a multitude of ways with a multitude of tools in a variety of spaces and settings.



We have seen a shift in how people work - a desk (any desk) is a limited tool - one tool can't provide all the work solutions. Just imagine the conversation if it were the opposite - all private offices. Today we look to include a variety of different types of workspace, or activity based work spaces and even external solutions. You move to the place that best supports the work that you are doing with the team you are working with. I don't think anyone would design all open workspace today without having some refuge to go to when necessary. 



We are also learning more about people. We are emotional, social, and have physical limitations. We suffer from stress and other workplace caused debilitation. There are also spaces that we enjoy and are healthy that we perform well in. There was a point when the industry designed 10x15 cardboard(GWB) boxes, with off-gassing carpet and an a 2x4 florescent light fixture, and expected people to perform at their best. The Gorilla in the local zoo had better working conditions. 

We are learning more about engagement, culture and finding our "zone" and how to apply those attributes to support and align our physical work environments. Many of these have to do with how we feel or what we like - not necessarily a tangible concept that can be measured, but a big factor in performance and productivity output.



Change management is another rapidly changing topic (no pun intended) . Organizations are struggling to deal with increasingly rapid change in business, technology, the economy, generational issues, etc. - the workplace can not keep up. Open offices were an attempt to do that, but were limited in their approach and failed to address many of the issues and we are just now learning the results. 



There is a dramatic shift occurring in how we think about the workplace - the "standard solution" wont be successful any more. Businesses need to learn that their space is what sets the context for the culture and every aspect of a business to succeed. 



Taking one issue and parsing it out fails to address or solve the real issues, or advance the state of the workplace -

 

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