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The furnitureless office

A big empty room
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Current trends in management have seen the invention of The Paperless Office (an office without paper where all documents are stored online) and of practices such as the clean-desk rule (desks should not be cluttered with papers or personal effects) and hot-desking (where no one has a desk of their own, but just sits in any available space).

The Furnitureless Office takes these practices to their logical extreme. Employees may sit on the floor if they must; however standing is more economical in floor-space. The area can also be used for meetings of various sizes, for political rallies and morning callisthenics or square-bashing routines. Alternatively, in companies with a more relaxed management style, the large open space may be used for games of football, dodgeball, or indoor cricket, or as an impromptu performance space for passing modern dance and theatre groups.

Those are the benefits for employees. But what about management? They can swiftly accommodate new staff with the minimum additional spend. The absence of hiding places for both people and physical objects increases the ability of management to control every aspect of the worker's life. And the removal of cubicles or separate offices lessens the likelihood of staff making private phone calls, accessing or working for pornographic web sites, or planning workplace massacres.

These ideas will be developed in more detail in my forthcoming book The Furnitureless Office: Management Strategies For The Post-Human Epoch.

pottedstu, Nov 23 2001

Chiat-Day's attempt at the 'office-less office' http://www.wired.co...ive/7.02/chiat.html
"It was a bold experiment in creating the office of the future. There were no offices, no desks, no personal equipment. And no survivors." [phoenix, Nov 23 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Hot-Desking: the cold facts http://www.zdnet.co...f/1999/11/hot_desk/
Cheaper rents, but much bigger IT spend. [pottedstu, Nov 23 2001, last modified Oct 17 2004]


       Baked (believe it or not). See link.
phoenix, Nov 23 2001

       phoenix: Thank you, that's exactly what I meant. It would have to be an advertising company. I can't believe it.   

       One of the big problems with Chiat-Day's office seemed to be that they had to struggle constantly to prevent nesting, i.e. people picking places and staying there from day to day. This could be solved by moving office every day. Alternatively, movable walls could be used to ensure staff kept on their toes, and could also be used to sweep up and remove any personal effects left lying around.   

       Another problem was due to having multiple separate rooms, and the people who got there first resenting interlopers; I recommend one bigger room. Think of the savings in cleaning bills alone.   

       You also have to ban staff from driving to work, to stop them working in their cars.
pottedstu, Nov 23 2001

       Pottedstu, you've obviously never had to stand for eight hours straight. 'Paperless offices' don't work. They've been trying it for years here.   

       Hot-desking is a gigantic pain in the ass. You can't save any of your documents, you can't leave anything you might want to keep but don't want to haul around, etc. Constant change is extremely irritating.   

       This is an amazingly bad idea.
StarChaser, Nov 24 2001

       StarChaser: It always amazes me that despite the failures of Taylorism and scientific management through the last century, companies continue to believe that making their staff less comfortable and more robot-like is the way to a more productive workplace. Academics are devoting millions of research papers to trying to make my job (software development) as mechanical as possible, and it can't be long before every aspect of production is reduced to the same 22* step operation as the manufacture of a Big Mac.   

       *estimated number of steps.
pottedstu, Nov 24 2001

       Although working from home seems an idylic alternative, believe me, it isn't, especially if you have a family. I am torn between house work and real work all day. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, should I do a few loads of washing or sit at the computer? Maybe prepare a lovely meal, go shopping, etc. Unless you're extremely untidy (like me) and don't really care about the state of your home, this as a rule, wouldn't work for women. Where children are concerned, I am at the beck and call from school, my children have unfortunately inherited my turmoil and regularly forget lunch, books, homework or fain illness because they know I am at home. (I don't mind visiting school un-announced to check what is going on) but if you had a deadline to meet it could cause problems. I would love to work in a separate environment for work, not an office, but definately "not from home" On the other hand, if you're a bloke........?
arora, Nov 24 2001

       All us mushrooms really want is a comfortable chair, a comfortable environment, a mute switch on the phone and all the information we need to do our jobs. If I could get all this at home, I'd be more than happy to work from there. I have a better network connection at home than I do at work <At IBM...>, a much more comfortable chair, and cats as necessary.
StarChaser, Nov 24 2001

       I think most people want to have a place to belong, not to mention the important social signals people send when personalizing their space. In Chiat-Day's case, if the sales folk weren't being productive enough, they should have been fired.   

       Some have predicted a future workforce which is nomadic. Employees would contract themselves out for a specified time period and probably work from home. I find it difficult to believe that any company would place too much trust in an employee that doesn't work for them. (OT: This is why I don't understand outsourcing IT functions. IT should be a strategic and tactical addition to a company, but when my IT department also works for the competition, where's the benefit?)   

       I'm all for work-from-anywhere. I understand [arora]'s reservations as well. Perhaps in the future there will be demand for the sub-let cubicle. Imagine an office owned by a landlord who is repsonsible for all the amenities of the facility (including network security). The landlord rents cubicles to work-from-anywhere employees. Now the employees could have a shorter commute (be closer to their community), still have their 'own place' (which isn't at home), and the company for whom the employee works saves on lease and maintenance costs. Just might work.
phoenix, Nov 24 2001

       I'd love to rent a place without being liable for the business rates and public liablity order, even though the public may not visit my work place, just to keep work from home life.
arora, Nov 24 2001

       // clean-desk rule //   

       Is this for real? I can understand the appeal of "hot desking" from an efficiency point of view, but if you're not doing that, what's the point of that?   

       Unless this is a desk in some public space, where you'll be dealing with customers, and you're trying to project a corporate, professional air. Is that it?
egnor, Nov 25 2001

       UB: Why would you not be trusted to do work from home? Also, why do you have a dual-proc box? Just curious . . . . Are you using it for imaging work or something?
bristolz, Nov 25 2001

       Egnor: Yes, it's for real. They tried it on us when we moved to the new cubicles. Nothing on the desk that wasn't directly related to the business. You were allowed one small picture in a frame of one's SO or family. Nothing else on the walls at all, because everything business related was supposed to be on the computer <'paperless' office>. Whenever a customer comes through, we have to have the <flickering> desk lights on <which makes the monitors flicker because the ballast seems to be right over the back of them> which gives everyone a headache pretty much instantly, and serves no useful purpose, since we have a billion watts of light coming down from the overhead chrome magnifier grids. <I finally had to build a shade over my monitor because the 60hz flicker from the lights was fighting with the 75hz flicker from the monitor and making my eyeballs melt.>   

       It's all stupid. They bring the suits through to show them the little mushrooms in their farms, and it's pointless.
StarChaser, Nov 25 2001


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