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January 8, 2014
Evidence Against Open Offices
It's clear that many readers here are not fans of open-office designs - and whether that percentage is higher or lower among chemists (or scientists in general) is an interesting question that hasn't been settled yet. But if you're one of those dissenters, take heart: this New Yorker piece is the herald of the backlash.
In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation. . .
There are plenty more links of the same type in the post, so if you're looking for ammunition against open-office plans, that's your one-stop superstore. Designers of new spaces in this industry sure do seem to love 'em, though. But personally, I'm not enthusiastic. I like talking to people about ideas, and I like hearing what other people are up to. But when I'm thinking, I shut the door. When I'm interrupted, my thoughts take off like the pigeons do when someone rides their
VestaVespa into the market square in an old Italian movie. Update: my brain was apparently thinking about the asteroid instead of the scooter). It's almost physically painful to feel the structure I was building collapse, knowing that I'm going to have to assemble it all again.
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