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Is this the death of Open Planned Offices?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by Supermac34, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. Supermac34

    Supermac34 President, Von Wafer Fan Club

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    For about 2 decades, companies have used the excuse of "collaboration" and "team work" to push the idea of an open planned offices. First we went from individual offices...then to shared offices...then traditional cubes...and now the rage has been the space aged, open desk, glass enclosed conference room "OPEN CONCEPT".

    CEOs and Corporate Real estate have said: We can all work better if we collaborate more!

    The truth has been, it actually LOWERS productivity, and many workers hate it. Just one article here: https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-truth-about-open-offices. Study after study have shown: Open concept office actually REDUCE employee interaction, create distractions which destroy productivity (most jobs require hours of "quiet time" to produce, and actually make people sick (spreading germs around much faster, thus lowering productivity more).

    The REAL reason for open plans was really squeezing as many people as possible in as small a space as possible, saving on "per employee real estate cost". Additionally, open concepts allow for much cheaper outfitting and services. Need additional workspace? Pull up a chair to an already crowded table, or reconfigure with even smaller desk space. An entire generation of younger workers was duped into believing open concept was THE concept. There is additionally the concept of worker supervision. Poor managers that can't manage deliverables?...don't trust your employees to get their work done? Say no more! We'll make it to where everybody can spy on each other!

    Now COVID: employees across the globe have been thrown into "work from home" situations. The unintended side effect: worker productivity is actually UP in many of these companies.

    Safety concerns abound...how do I keep COVID from spreading when my workers come back if I have 3 employees per 50 sq ft? No wall...no doors...now plexiglass the whole thing up!

    I think you'll see more than 50% of companies do two things: 1. People are going to be allowed to work from home from here on out (if the job allows it). 2. You're going to see a return to cubes or even individual offices for those that stay in the office.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Nook

    Nook Member

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    I think it will depend on a few factors.

    How long until there is a vaccine and how long before we have another pandemic.

    If there is a vaccine found by the end of the year and it is a decade or more until there is another pandemic, then we will likely see the open floor plan hold on in one way or another for a decade or two.

    If there isn't a vaccine by the Spring OR we see another pandemic in the next handful of years...... it is likely dead.
     
  3. MadMax

    MadMax Contributing Member

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    Speaking just for my office...no way we could make it work all just working remotely.
     
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  4. R0ckets03

    R0ckets03 Contributing Member

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    I am also thinking productivity is up right now, because most people are scared AF about losing their jobs. So they are going to do everything possible to show they are needed.
     
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  5. PhiSlammaJamma

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    Hard to say. There are still a lot of old school leaders out there. They exist in droves. But it should be phasing out and this will help. The next generation doesn't even look at you, they look at their phones, and I'm ok with that. It's a different world. And I think it will be.
     
  6. Space Ghost

    Space Ghost Contributing Member

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    I believe Open Planned Office was also used to ensure people didnt spend their day on ClutchFans instead of doing actual work.

    When we built out our new facility, our owner wanted to do something like that (because it was cool and the hip thing to do). We pushed back. Traditional fully walled offices, no glass. He went with glass in his office. Im not sure how he gets anything done with all of the distractions. When deadlines come up, he ends up working from home.

    All forms have their benefits if the type of work calls for it.
     
  7. Ziggy

    Ziggy 99ers STAND BY
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    The way some of your responses read, it sounds like a lot of you are commenting on working remotely and not the open office concept. Also, how common are open office concepts? I feel like it has been the emerging craze, sure, but I don't actually see it very often in Texas.
     
  8. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    This is s debate we've been having in architecture circles. There is still a lot of debate regarding how many people will work from home and if we will see the decline of office space in general but most architects I've talked to seem to feel that we'll see a move away from open planned offices. What we might see is a lot more office rooms but offices with glass. That would match a trend already that even there are offices those have at least one glass wall, although the glass is treated in some way so the whole thing isn't transparent.

    On a related issue I'm hearing from residential architects that home design might change too and we might see a move away from open planned housing to more specific spaces. With a lot of people spending time at home we might see more den spaces and specific home office spaces.
     
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  9. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    I don't know anyone who likes the open concept.

    Before all this COVID madness, my company was remodeling each floor of our building to a more open concept. Glassing in offices and conference rooms and lowering cube walls so that everyone can see their neighbors, etc. I've been on other other floors after it's been done and everyone hates it. Not just the worker bees, the managers and VP's hate it too. Everyone.

    They were scheduled to start on our floor late this year, but luckily, it's been put on hold....since no one is there right now and probably won't be until after September at the earliest.

    Hopefully, this is just a temporary hip trend that doesn't last long.
     
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  10. Nook

    Nook Member

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    Mine as well, but we could make it work by having employees in the office 2-3 days a week and working a couple days outside the office.
     
  11. Rokkit

    Rokkit Contributing Member

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    yeah, there was a lot of stuff about how open office concepts didn't work that well even before any coronavirus stuff happened

    a complete reassessment of remote work feasibility is going to be the biggest development out of this virus imo
     
  12. Dr of Dunk

    Dr of Dunk Clutch Crew

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    Working from home works for some people, but others can't do it because of the distractions, I guess. I don't have any distractions and would find it dull working from home all the time. I like interaction with co-workers every now and then.

    The last company I worked for was a more modern, agile, software development environment that did a lot of WFH. You wouldn't know where people were half the time -- are they going to be in the office, working from home, etc? We were bought out buy an older, stodgier company filled with a mix of young and old that believed WFH was meant for a death in the family. lol. There were rumors that there would eventually be a clash, but I got bored of the drive and resigned, so I'm not sure what will end up happening. Maybe the old, stodgy company will be changed by the COVID WFH revolution. No idea.

    I enjoyed the days of cubes a bit more than the "open office" era of lean/agile/penny-pinching development. They each have their advantages, I suppose.
     
  13. donkeypunch

    donkeypunch Contributing Member

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    How am I supposed to obsessively stare at Cindy in Accounting with walls up....?
     
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  14. Xerobull

    Xerobull Contributing Member

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    I’ll pick my ****ing nose all I want. And if you give me a dirty look, I’ll ****ing eat what comes out.
     
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  15. marky :)

    marky :) Member

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    Used to work in a true open office style in downtown. Directors/managers didn't have offices, their desks were with us on the "floor". There weren't partitions between workers and you could see everything that people worked on. Hated it so much and weirdly enough like the cubicle setup a lot more.

    This was basically our setup except that wooden divider was a lot smaller.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. studogg

    studogg Contributing Member

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    In CRE tracking this for a living. The tenant rep brokers will tell you the flight to new construction and crazy amenities will continue. However - this is far from what the truth is as only tech tenants (google just took space in a mixed use, Microsoft is about to go to The Canon, and Amazon Web services went to city center) and potentially financial can afford new now.

    Overall rates are going to get pummeled.

    as per density - it will go in the opposite direction but you won’t notice it because companies aren’t bringing back all their office employees. Some are proving to be wfh (20%) some will be let go. That will allow the office to operate in the same footprint with less density.
     
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  17. Blake

    Blake Contributing Member

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    My company (large multinational) was planning on moving our office (around 300 people) to the "open concept" to "foster collaboration" AKA save real estate space as we have lots of offices on the outer walls and cubicles in the middle and they have done this in other cities when the leases came up for renewal. Everyone (myself included) was pissed about it but we had no choice. Those in offices that had already done this complained about how terrible it was. Fortunately due to COVID and a large acquisition it is now on hold. I assume we will not do this now but will still save on space by having a lot of people permanently working from home thus solving the only issue they cared about...reducing real estate costs.
     
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  18. ATXNekko

    ATXNekko Member

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    Worked at Dell in the early 2K they made an entire floor open concept, maybe a 6 inch divider between the person in front of you. It was filled with Sales people and the sound was over whelming from everyone trying to talk over each other. Everything I was told was that performance had dropped and the employees freaking hated it. But it stayed. Thankfully I was in CubeVille on a lower level.

    Current employer has almost an identical set up and its tolerable to an extent until I am eyeballs and mentally focused on painstaking detailed work.

    Our owner is against WFH and sites Yahoo and IBM for its ineffectiveness, he will still not admit that we are performing at a higher level than before the Vid. But has begun implementation of automatic temp sensors when you enter the building. Making as many things touch-less as possible with gel cleaning stations everywhere. He lets us come into the office if we want but is now stating that even when they decide we will return it will be as a A, B, C, D schedule based on work area to keep people spread apart and low density. We only have to come in if we want.

    I have worked remotely in some fashion since I left Dell and prefer it. Its the 10-15% that struggle without supervision and direct management focus and those people shouldn't be part of the workforce to begin with.
     
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  19. Xerobull

    Xerobull Contributing Member

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    What’s your take on how this will affect residential and vacation housing?
     
  20. studogg

    studogg Contributing Member

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    financial services company in the cbd?
     

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