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Open plan offices

by mel starrs on September 11, 2007

in Uncategorized

In case you may have missed it, Architectural Record has started a blog, and it’s actually quite good.  Catching up with the archives, I found this gem on open plan offices.

Having been on the receiving end of some less than stellar office re-organisations and also involved (somewhat indirectly in the actual design decisions, but present at the discussions) in the construction of open plan offices, I can only agree with Suzanne Stephens’ conclusions:

It’s time another Probst came up with acoustically satisfying work environments—ones that companies can afford, and everyone will find truly distraction-free.

She also touches on another problem with open plan offices – storage space.  Can we come up with an acoustically satisfying space which also has enough space for the reference documents we all use?  One solution would be a dual screen arrangement (one screen for reference material, and one for actually composing drawings or documents or running software).  Of course, your desk would need to be large enough to hold both screens and then we would run the risk of supplying desks large enough to lay out an A1 (nevermind A0) drawing on. Can’t be going back to the good old days when we all had a drawing board and desk to ourselves, can we now? 

This may seem rather petulant, and although the “happy worker is a productive worker” is refuted by some, I’m still a fan of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Given a comfortable environment, in which a worker feels their needs are being respected, they will be able to advance towards attaining cognitive and aesthetic needs – surely a goal if your business is engineering or architecture?

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