The End Of The Office (As We Know It)

from Enrique Dans

More and more companies seem to be coming round to the idea of the ??open office, although there is still criticism to be found in some quarters. Such criticism usually has to do with a misunderstanding of the open office as a design or an architectural matter, when the issue is related a change in the philosophy of work: if you don’t understand that, your redesign will not work.

Many employees see the idea of ??leaving an office to work in an open space as a loss: they lose their privacy and must now function in plain sight of the world. It is essential to convey to people that the open office means a change in how we conceive of work and that it is not about taking things away, but about offering you the freedom to work from wherever you want. If you need concentration, work at home or wherever suits you. You do not have to go to your office, because your office has become a place where what is essential is the exchange of information, collaboration and social interaction.

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  1. Enrique Dans claims that the style of office culture is shifting into the cloud based open office system. People bring what they need, work is done on laptops. People are saving paper and office space while also creating a new culture. The open office style may be becoming more popular, but I believe it has both positives and negatives.
    One positive I like is what Dans said about the social atmosphere. In the open office model, workers can branch their network out and become more involved with the office community than the cubical style of sitting next to the same few people every single day. This will help create a stronger bond with the workplace. If a worker does not like the person they are sitting with one day, they can move over to a new area to sit the next. For me, I am a creature of habit and I would probably find the same seat by the same area every day, but it is up to the bosses to enforce policy to create an open atmosphere for me and others.
    Another reason I like the open office model is because it will be more aesthetically pleasing, along with pleasing the wallets. Without the costly walls and masses of cubicles, the office can have some culture to it. Different areas have different functions and it allows for changes in the environment. The office can come to life where all the structure does not have to bet set in stone. It can be moved around to one’s liking and be unique for the office. With this the office can get better use out of its structures of desks and rooms that can be used differently for different situations. The other benefit is access. The cloud technology of sharing documents online helps save money on paper, along with not having to have piles of materials to bring around. The majority of the material will be stored online which will be easily accessible, where workers can be productive their own way. Whenever it is not group activity, or meeting, it is not looked at anymore as “whoever spends most time in the office is necessarily doing the most work”. A worker can be productive anywhere doing individual work.
    This individual work has downfalls though. It may be harder for workers to escape their job. Traditionally, at the end of the day a worker goes home and their materials are left at work. They cannot do anything extra or would not be contacted because they do not have the information on them. In an open office, workers might have to be accessed outside of normal hours to do quick activities that need to be done. Sure, it is better for productivity, but not mentally. Say someone goes away on a vacation, the boss can access them to sit down right from there to be in the meeting from video chat. The standard 9 to 5 will be expanded of doing pieces of work throughout the day here and there instead of being in one place and getting all done. There may be many distractions in the open office model because workers are not sitting in their plain cubical getting the work done. Workaholics will never stop because they are always with their work on the laptops wherever they go. From my experience of people, I know in a similar model, they are always on call and get emails constantly that they have to transfer documents and make calls whenever they are supposed to be off or taking a vacation day. In this way, there is no escape mentally from being away from work because they always have work with them. All in all, the open model is beneficial to the workplace but the cloud style should be more limited so employees can escape work mentally so when they are working they can put their most effort into each minute.

  2. In Enrique’s article, he talks about the shift of the office scene to now the digital office scene. With that, less people are commuting in traffic, sitting at a desk, attending in person meetings, having lunch with co workers, and then commuting back home at the end of the day to complain to their loved ones or their pets about their day. It has now changed to getting up and not commuting, opening up your laptop at a desk at home, doing work and attend meetings over digital conference calls, eating leftovers in the refrigerator, then going to bed. It has become a shift where everything else is held through online presence and through apps on the computers and phones. This is good for some businesses due to the need to pay for an office, save the employees’ money on gas and transportation needs, and even less paper wasted being printed, written on, and eventually thrown away. It does contain its’ downsides with Enqriue who does note in the article, stating how we grow less and less from in person human reactions and being to loose sight of where the transition is between a home/personal life and a business life where the boundaries between the two shift closer. He notes in the article of some tips about how to integrate with this new change of at homework and how to keep a balance between the two. An example is, reps for many different companies would come to our store, show us new products, and place orders in person while giving their opinions about the products. With the new digital office, there are reps through phone calls, viewing online catalogs, and placing orders through emails with the chance that the product will hopefully not look like complete waste of money. It is sad to know to see a shift in life where the human interaction begins to become lost and have to rely heavily on technology to get some form of work done. This now leads to large business building vacancies in hopes to either be used again in the future, be torn down or converted to something new, or left to grow weeds and be a resemblance of what the past office life used to be. The awkward encounters of coffee breaks, office parties, and good team work and relationships that was shown through the office.

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