You’re all wrong. No, really.

Open Plan Offices

The other day I saw this tweet and it set off my self-serving data detector.

The language is the first clue. “…everyone with half a brain…” Well this person has two halves in working order and decided to read the linked document. Guess what? It cites two studies, both done in large, Fortune 500 multinationals who converted their offices to open plan.

Rule number one when dealing with worker drones — they don’t like change!

Sorry, but this is bunkum. Show me studies of many companies, over many countries, in many industries, where their offices have been open plan for at least 10 years. Then we will see “what the data says.”

Anecdotally, I’ve been working in open plan offices for the vast majority of my 30+ year career in IT and they work just fine for a lot of people.

What doesn’t work is complainers. I’ve gone through several significant changes in how my current office space is laid out and often the changes are unpopular (see rule number 1), but for the most part we adapt and get on with the job. Open plan offices can be done badly, just like any design.

One change which did not stick came about as part of our change to Agile methods of working (and that whole change was BIG). Someone decided that removing all of the partitions between desks was the right thing to do. They were wrong. It is universally disliked and is slowly being reversed. Note that these partitions are low enough that I can see over the top while seated. It just means if I want to talk to the person on the other side, I usually stand up. These are only present between desks that are back-to-back and so generally do not separate members of the same team.


Here’s another tweet that caught my eye.

This one I agree with. All The Simpsons writers do is look around themselves and amplify what they see. They take the everyday, and the weird, and they turn it up to 11. If it’s starting to look like the actual state of the USA now, then that is merely an indication that the current government have turned it up to 11.

I think it has always been on the cards. I saw another tweet recently which I can no longer find that said essentially “America’s concept of freedom is more about me being free to do what I want than you being free to do what you want.”

I know quite a lot of really smart Americans who aren’t really that different to me except they speak in a different accent and use strange units of measure. But then I watch TV and I can see The Simpsons playing out for real and I fervently hope that the kinds of people I know can right the ship.


This tweet is one of mine, which I thought bore repeating.

Last night I saw the news that Facebook have bought Giphy. So I deleted it from my phone. Then it occurred to me I was still using Instagram. A quick mental stocktake told me it wasn’t really adding much value for me, so I deleted my account.

I know I’m not alone in my general dislike of Facebook — most of the tweets from technorati announcing the purchase of Giphy were accompanied with “if you’re looking for an alternative…”.

What I find amusing is that when I was using Facebook, all the ‘normal’ people in my life thought it was dumb. Then one by one they all arrived, but by which time I was done. I originally quit for technical reasons — the Facebook website at the time (2011 I think) was annoying me on a regular basis — but after being cajoled to return a year or two later it became clear to me that I simply did not want to navigate an ecosystem of deceit nor be subject to the hooks it would lay down in so many aspects of my online (and physical!) life.

I quit for the second and final time in January 2013, and yes, I think Facebook is dumb.

That concludes this edition of Echoes. The comments are open, but will be moderated for civility. Alternatively you can hit me up on Twitter, where I go by @zkarj.

Header photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Categories: Echoes


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