I have seen two recent articles regarding work spaces that has me
blogging about the topic. The second will be discussed in the next
post but the first is a promotion of a “new” work environment trend
that seems to promote a direction I find so completely in opposition
from my own experiences that I found it farcical.
almost 30 years ago I was employed by a company that saved office
floor space by going from two-man shared cubicles to four-man spaces
they called “bullpens”. Google “bullpen office” images and here are
two examples of what you will get:
The article states, “COOs will not continue to pay high electric bills
and real estate costs for people who use their space 30% of the time.”
Referring to the time employees spend in traditional offices. This
presumes that the other 70% is spent in the cafeteria, bathroom,
conference rooms and “collaborating” with colleagues. So their answer
is get rid of the office and only pay for the non-office space. Did
anyone stop to think about which time partition was actually the most
Does that look like forward thinking? The employer that had me in a
bullpen also had manufacturing co-located in an adjacent building so
one of the items you could requisition from the supply room was those
large bulky ear muffs that provide -30db of hearing protection.
I walked into a neighboring bullpen one day to ask a colleague a
question. He and his 3 office mates were facing the four corners all
wearing these ear muffs. I could have been a 40 piece marching band and
they would not have know I had entered. I walked up and tapped the
shoulder of the one with the information I needed and he almost went
into cardiac arrest.
Yes, it was that long ago that even the Sony Walkman was not yet
ubiquitous. So look at the second picture of the second article
referenced above. And see that the -30db ear muffs have been replaced
with +30db of constant distraction, lest someone wants to
Does that look like someone who wants to collaborate? When did
covering ones ears become more open to collaboration than an office
with a closed door? How do I politely knock on headphones?
But the same article has another solution besides the headphones. Here
a $5.00 pyramid that let’s you indicate whether you are available for
connectivity or productivity. “Flockd is an analog, face-to-face,
social media accessory” Again, is this an SNL skit? Make me a pyramid
that’s 200 square feet with a door and a window please.