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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
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'.