Thursday, November 01, 2007

Open Spaces & Productivity

I write from a position of utter ignorance here, as for the most of the last 5 years I've had quite unpleasant working situations. Nonetheless, I've often been very productive in my windowless basements, sometimes because of their unpleasantness: I had to work harder in order to eliminate them from my awareness. I wasn't always allowed an MP3 player and headphones, either, so it's not like I had any sort of private space. I worked for 15 months at the desk pictured at the right, and I was extremely productive. That doesn't mean that I didn't also hate it. The effort that I had to exert in order to shut out distractions eventually wore me out. Be all that as it may, I really just want to admit that I have no proper basis of comparison to the agile image of an open space of unimpeded communication. I'm not sure I want to share a keyboard with anyone for most of the day, but maybe my irritation will diminish now that I've moved out of the aforementioned dungeon.

At any rate, it is possible to study these things, and Michael Brill does just that. Brill is president of BOSTI Associates, "workplace planning and design consultant in Buffalo, N.Y., and founder of the School of Architecture at the University of Buffalo" (click here). This article contrasts his viewpoint to that of Franklin Becker, director of the International Workplace Studies Program at Cornell University. I don't have time to summarize right now (I just finished my coffee, so my "knife-sharpening" 20 minutes are over), but they both agree that cubicles are bad.

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