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Open-Plan Offices

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posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 07:20 AM
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I work for a large multi-national corporation (with over 100,000 people) which has recently decided to switch to what is commonly known as an "open-plan" office layout. This is a scheme where offices and cubes are replaced by flat work surfaces with no dividers and lots of small 'conversation rooms' and 'landing zones'. Stranger still, there are no seat assignments; you sit where a spot is available (like grade school). Many of you may know what I am referring to, or maybe even work in one yourself. By the way, this is not a high production / small unit environment, but a very technical engineering type environment where concentration is key.

I personally am not affected by the change (because I don't work from one of the main offices), but many are and they are extremely upset by the coming changes. Though I am not affected, I do have a couple observations which I believe are very much conspiracy related.

There are numerous studies out there which point out the negative effects of going to an open-plan office layout. Productivity drops, stress increases, sick time increases and personnel retention drops. Yet despite these negatives more and more companies are moving toward this type of an approach. It has become a 'trend' if you will. The immediate up-side of this approach (and usually the stated reason) is cost savings, but I think there's more to it than that...a lot more.

It seems to me when a company goes to a plan like this they have some other, more subtle and sinister, goals in mind. I think the real goals are to:

1. Homogenize the office workforce down to a common denominator (regardless if that is the lowest common denominator). To create a herd of sheep if you will.

2. Drive up stress intentionally to increase employee separation (despite the fact you might be losing your best people, not the hangers-on).

3. Reduce individual self-worth so people will expect, and be willing to receive, less.

To me it seems like a thinly veiled and selfish attempt by a bunch of faceless upper level executives and board members trying to make their profit projections (and resulting bonuses) by eeking the last one quarter of a cent anywhere they can...and this isn't even the really sinister part. It's like companies who adopt these approaches have something bigger in mind, something very much akin to 'Big Brother' where there is a very conscious, almost overt, effort by the 'Inner Party' to demand the 'Outer Party' force everyone else into accepting they are nothing more than 'Proles'.




posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 07:40 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Pretty much it SOUNDS like exactly what the corporatocracy (Corporations, Bankers, Wall Street, Lobbyists, Puppet Politicians) are doing to the masses via economic, sociological and psychological tools.

It gives more control to the few at the top, and everyone else is less able to stand up for themselves or "unite" on any issues.

Sounds like a smaller scale version of what we are seeing in every area of society, wouldn't you say?



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 07:49 AM
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a reply to: FamCore

Exactly. In fact, your statement is the essence I was trying to capture. Thank you for articulating it.

It is like a snapshot of the future, a scaled down representative sample brought to us by the Ghost of Christmas Future

It's quite profound actually, to me anyway, to actually witness it in action.




edit on 11/11/2015 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 07:51 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Given that you say that it is a "very technical engineering type environment where concentration is key", I don't think the firm would have anything to gain by establishing the goals you set out in points 1, 2 and 3. In fact, any one of those would quickly have negative implications for the firm's profitability (especially via the higher staff turnover that you have already identified yourself).

My guess is that it is a lot less sinister than you imagine. Unfortunately, some people simply cannot leave things as they are. They have to introduce change. It's what they thrive on, because it looks good on their CV when they are applying for their next job. They aren't interested in whether those changes are positive, negative or neutral, because they don't hang around long enough to find out. They simply move onto the next firm that has a "we must have change - change is good" mindset, and history starts to repeat itself. Anyone who dares to question this mindset is committing professional suicide, of course. Been there, seen that, got the t-shirt.
edit on 11-11-2015 by lacrimoniousfinale because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 07:54 AM
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a reply to: lacrimoniousfinale

Which is exactly my point; the benefits are very short sighted while the negative effects are much longer term.

It's almost a metaphor of sorts, a statement of our society. The larger question is; where does it all lead?



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:01 AM
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Sorry to hear about that... the "open office" idea sounds a lot like a lot of other whizzy things that are being tried these days... Agile, SCRUM, Dev/Ops, the list goes on. They all attempt to solve real issues, but they all just have a different set of shiny objects with which to confuse and amaze.

I think your original point 4 (which you didn't put a number on) is probably the closest... this is another ill-considered means to try to further cut costs, so the big boyz 'n' girlz at the top can check off a box on a checklist somewhere, and get their annual bonus increase... those folks have to eat too, ya know...

Penny wise and pound foolish seems to be depressingly common these days.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:21 AM
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a reply to: Open_Minded Skeptic

You sure have that right about the "whizzy" things!!! Agile, black belt, SCRUM, waterfall and so many others...all just selling books, selling instruction, on how to repackage the same old turd in a new wrapper and make a quick buck.

Change for the sake of change. This, at the expense employee morale with the sole purpose being nothing more than a desperate attempt to get just one drop more blood from the turnip.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:45 AM
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Dumb idea, people need some "space" even it's a cube. Seems to me it takes away any "ownership" of your work space, no family photos or personal items. How much do you wanna bet the executives still have an office !



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:51 AM
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This sort of work place space can actually cause psychotic breaks.

I wish I could find it but there was a study done. They found that, during periods of intense concentration, if you have sporadic movement in your peripheral vision, it can cause an increase in cortisal and stimulates your fight or flight response, making you very on edge and paranoid. Over an extended period of time, it can lead to a mental breakdown.

So, knowing that, any company that is opting for that scenario is - at best - callous and - at worst - scary as hell.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:52 AM
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It sounds like some new age trendy hipster maneuvers and I don't like it!



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:57 AM
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Bean-counters at corporations (accountants) really only care about reducing costs. Directors and managers get a bonus if they can say they "reduced costs". In any company, staff are organized into departments, divisions, projects, teams. As time goes along, the size of each team can increase or decrease. Sometimes that leads to a shortage of space, other times there are a few spare desks.

To the bean counter, this is unnecessary waste, so they figure one way to solve this problem is to have "hot-desking" where workers can just be plugged in and out wherever there is space. They don't care about the loss of team spirit, or having a home from home where you can concentrate on your work without distraction.

I've worked in a variety of cubicles. The absolutely worst one was when my cubicle was right next to the main office interstate. People would stop to chat to each other right alongside my cubicle, then place their coffee mugs on the partition, letting their wet mugs drip down all over my posters and timecharts. Next most annoying thing is all those windows update messages that popup when you are at a meeting and want to get a particular application up on the projector.

edit on 11-11-2015 by stormcell because: (no reason given)

edit on 11-11-2015 by stormcell because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 09:10 AM
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Here is a whacky web site that tries to explain it, looks like it was made in 1993. LOL!

visionandpsychosis.net...

Anyways, I'll keep looking for a better, more scientific reference to the phenomenon.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 09:17 AM
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One has to wonder too if the (perceived?) increase in mental health issues across the western world might, at least in part, be attributed to this phenomenon and where people choose to place their computers in relationship to the environment around them...not to mention phones, tablets, etc being used so excessively in public with activity all around you in your peripheral vision while you are intently focused on a screen. Subliminally it might be messing you up.

I'm interested in what some of the mental health professionals on ATS have to say about it.
edit on 11/11/2015 by kosmicjack because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 09:27 AM
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Our company is going that way and everybody hates it they can hear and see everything in every direction. No concentration so more and more working from home. Stand up meeting rooms and more conference and Huddle rooms than we will ever need. Oh yes the Black Belts that just means you can move on for more money. I have an office with a door that I keep open the new layout I would be a step up from everyone else and face out over them. I won't be around for it. This is a lab environment that they want 1/2 walls and all the engineers outside the wall. We all laughed when the guy told us of the new plan.








posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 09:39 AM
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a reply to: kosmicjack

Interesting stuff kosmicjack, ty for sharing. My sister and I were just talking about why it seems so much easier to get things done at home when our families aren't home. We couldn't really think of a good reason why this seems to cause a sort of "anxiety" when we are trying to focus on a specific task. Nice to know there is some science behind this, and that we aren't just "crazy"...



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 09:49 AM
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originally posted by: lacrimoniousfinale
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Given that you say that it is a "very technical engineering type environment where concentration is key", I don't think the firm would have anything to gain by establishing the goals you set out in points 1, 2 and 3. In fact, any one of those would quickly have negative implications for the firm's profitability (especially via the higher staff turnover that you have already identified yourself).

My guess is that it is a lot less sinister than you imagine. Unfortunately, some people simply cannot leave things as they are. They have to introduce change. It's what they thrive on, because it looks good on their CV when they are applying for their next job. They aren't interested in whether those changes are positive, negative or neutral, because they don't hang around long enough to find out. They simply move onto the next firm that has a "we must have change - change is good" mindset, and history starts to repeat itself. Anyone who dares to question this mindset is committing professional suicide, of course. Been there, seen that, got the t-shirt.


You hit that ball out of the park and just like you, I've got the T-Shirt and the scars from the "change is better" crew. Unfortunately, they're usually embedded, (some, literally) with Management and the first thing they claim is cost savings. Office furniture has become outrageously expensive and so has "floor space". By eliminating walls, they can squeeze the max number of wage slaves onto a floor of a high rise office building.

It also serves to force older workers out of the work place and the new ones coming in don't know any different so they adjust faster to the change. It is, after all, not a change to them, its the "normal". Typically when the older workers bail out, the corporations bring back the most knowledgeable and talented on contract and allow them to work from home.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 12:34 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Not necessarily the same thing, but back when I was in the USAF, we had a job. It was kind of a simple thing. Keep planes flying. We had tools available, and knowledge as well. Of course, being the military we had esprit-de corps. (or pride in unity) And we had individual groups. But..... almost every year, or every few years, there was change.

We went from AGS (aircraft generation squadrons) to AMU's (aircraft maintenance Units) And had many other changes involving buildings and placements along the way. But, we still went to the same flightline and fixed the same planes the same way.

I just assumed those at the top knew what they were doing and i'd be best to just do what I was told and smile. (BTW, that works splendidly in the military) But after becoming a business owner, you start to see that change for the sake of change only costs money and rarely yields the results attempted. Change to fix a problem is a must, but when something isn't broken, trying to implement a fix will usually have a negative impact.

And, listening to the individual ideas can produce amazing results as they tend to look at things from a completely different perspective, and allowing all those ideas to combine and be heard has historically yielded the best overall results.

But to tie that in with your conspiracy, I do believe that attrition was the ultimate goal of change. good, bad, or indifferent.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 03:27 PM
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I have never regretted leaving my corporate job. They can't pay enough for me to have to put up with crap like this 'plan'.



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:31 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

The story for the open plan/open environment that I was fed was that it was supposed to increase communication among team members.

I also work in a highly technical environment, and I miss my old cube very much because it allowed me to be an introvert and get my job done efficiently. Plus, I still had a sense of my own space - I could put drawings on all 4 walls and have a bit of privacy.

While I cannot agree totally with the sinister ideas behind it, they do this in a way to make everyone a "person" (in my environment, managers used to get a special glass partition to essentially create a pie-shaped cube next to the windows; they stopped doing this when most of the managers left).

My conspiracy angle is this: In the open environment, it is far easier to keep tabs on what your employees are doing, just by sitting and scanning the room. Rumors tend to spread quicker in an open office, because there are less barriers to communication. Plus, in our office it makes it look more "expansive" (which is used when clients are given a tour of the place; makes it look like we've got an abundance of staff).

-foss



posted on Nov, 11 2015 @ 08:37 PM
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They are maybe maximizing space as there is soon to be a whole lot more people on the labor market with the mass exodus from the middle east and Africa



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