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Re: IBM is having a Yahoo moment: No more working from home
Subject:Re: IBM is having a Yahoo moment: No more working from home From:Helen OBoyle <hoboyle -at- gmail -dot- com> To:Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au> Date:Sat, 11 Feb 2017 15:40:35 +1100
Ahhh, yes, Peopleware! Having a copy of that on my bookshelf in the late
1980's gained me respect from Those Who Also Knew.
A really good environment I worked in, once upon a time, had 1 and 2 person
offices around an open area (which had previously contained cubes when the
org planned to expand, but then the owner realised the business didn't
quite have the potential it had been represented to have, so plans to
expand were quashed and the cubes dismantled). When our team needed to
meet, either all of us or a few of us, we'd congregate in the open area for
a standing meeting, often at a white board. When we needed to be by
ourselves, we'd go to our offices. It was sort of a dorm/quad model, where
individuals had some degree of privacy, but also had a ready made space for
It's sort of the reverse of what's going on today, as meetings are assumed
to be super-secret business requiring doors that shut and everyday work is
something that should be completely out in the open. What it provided was
a few things:
1) Individuals who wanted quiet could go sit in their little boxes and
work, and shut the door if they didn't want to hear what was going on
outside in the collaboration space.
2) Individuals who didn't want quiet had a place immediately outside their
little box where they could congregate with inhabitants of neighbouring
3) Individuals could keep up with meetings even when they had to work just
by leaving their door open and hearing the convo, and either chime in or
bookmark an idea for follow-up if they heard anything useful.
4) If the team decided a few weeks of working withing arms-length of each
other was required, desks could be moved into that area for a while.
THAT, to me, provided optimal flexibility for the workgroup, along with
autonomy (well, not exactly, but the manager was in another city and it was
a case of asking forgiveness when caught with desks out in the open area,
rather than permission) for the TEAM ITSELF to organise optimally. This
may have worked primarily because the team had neither strong introverts or
strong extroverts who were incapable of working in one or the other. We
were all pretty much flexible, as long as it fit our current deliverable
It was the kind of team-accessibility that today's open plan and low-walled
cube farm offices are supposed to facilitate, but with the productivity up
side of the employee having easy, realistic control over the ability to
have quiet and non-interruption when required.
On Sat, Feb 11, 2017 at 3:10 PM, Meryl R. Cohen <merylster -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> My personal preference is for a private or semi-private office. Second is
> open-plan with pods divided by low (3 ft) walls. I find traditional cubies
> to be the worst: No sound privacy, but felt cut off from people. I
> interviewed once at a place where everyone had their own private office,
> but the walls were all glass. Not sure how I would have liked that.
> On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 10:56 PM, Stuart Burnfield <slb -at- westnet -dot- com -dot- au>
> > There's a classic book that goes over exactly this ground:
> > Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy
> > Lister
> > <https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/67825.Peopleware>
> > It's short, highly relevant to IT teams, very readable, hugely enjoyable.
> > It says exactly what Lin and Chris say below. The sad thing is that it
> > first published in 1987. This stuff was known 30 years ago.
> > If you've ever had an uneasy feeling about a workplace, Peopleware
> > probably describes your nameless fear. As I skim the TOC it's clear how
> > many of their concepts I've internalised: flow time, "make a
> > sell a cheeseburger", no such thing as overtime, the high cost of
> > "hiring a juggler", "Paging Paul Portulaca!"... it's so vivid, once
> > read it you can never go back to not knowing.
> > IIRC they say that there never was any evidence to show that "open plan"
> > was good for productivity. Literally the only benefits are:
> > 1. It's cheaper.
> > 2. It's more flexible (easier to move partitions than walls--in other
> > words, cheaper).
> > In larger organizations the person who decides to go open plan probably
> > has zero experience working in IT or engineering teams. They decide it's
> > worth saving $X on fit out even at the expense of $Y in lost
> > They do this without knowing what "Y" is. /It's possible they don't even
> > know there is a Y./
> > Stuart
> > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > *From*: *Lin Sims <ljsims -dot- ml -at- gmail -dot- com>*
> > *To*: *"salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com" <salt -dot- morton -at-
> > gmail -dot- com>*
> > *Date*: *Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:39:44 -0500*
> > There's been at least one study that suggests that the "open work space
> > environment" (I had to look that up; yech!) doesn't inspire any more
> > collaboration than having private offices; however, people who have
> > or semi-private offices seem to have far lower levels of stress.
> > http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidburkus/2016/06/21/why-your-
> > open-office-workspace-doesnt-work/#4f89804216d0
> > I miss working at Telcordia. Managers had private offices, and everyone
> > else had semi-private (2 people per room) offices. Solid cinder block
> > and a solid door. Ah, peace.
> > On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 9:31 AM, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at-
> > gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> > > ...
> > >/Further, I just read in the local edition of the Business Review that
> > yet/
> > >/another company has bought a building and is going to create an open/
> > >/workspace environment. No thanks./
> > >
> > >/At least my HP cubicle afforded some degree of privacy, and it was
> > common/
> > >/to let team members know when one was "on critical path" (read: don't
> > bug/
> > >/me right now). From what I've read, all the open workspace does is
> > promote/
> > >/more slacking off, not desired "team building" (unless that definition
> > has/
> > >/come to mean playing fraternity house pranks)./
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