The idea behind the open office trend is that having all your colleagues in one big room fosters collaboration. I imagine building the spaces is less expensive as well. Unfortunately, we’ve been hearing about how poorly this works for people who need to have a distraction-free environment, like some of the software developers that these spaces were initially designed for.
Just today I read about yet another nail in the open office coffin. Cal Newport’s email newsletter advocating deep work referenced an interesting study performed by researchers Bernstein and Tubman at the Harvard Business School showing that employees spent 72% less time in face-to-face interactions, sent 56% more email and 67% more IMs after being moved to an open office space.
The study sampled 152 employees across two companies and found similar results in both cases. It’s remarkable that in-person communication actually went down when switching to open offices – the opposite effect of what people had predicted. The researchers speculate that this is a reaction to a lack of privacy – that people might look around, see that someone is at their desk, and choose to send an email or IM rather than walking over to say hello. It will be interesting to hear how these initial observations are extended. Maybe there is a sweet spot in terms of group size, or the amount of personal space each worker has, or the layout of the desks in the open office.
There’s part of me that thinks I should just leave it at that. This comic by The Oatmeal is worth the read, and wonderful on so many different levels.
There are things – mostly believable, if uncomfortable, things – to be learned, but more importantly for me, there were things to be felt. It was a small journey in self-awareness. Believe me, the few minutes it takes to scroll through the full comic are minutes well-spent.
HT to the wonderful chain of people on FB who conveyed this to me, Mark Ivan Cole, and Ben M. F. Rapson, and of course much gratitude to The Oatmeal, Matthew Inman whose work is always such a joy.
In my search for interesting news, I recently subscribed to The Atlantic after reading some interesting stories like this one about iGen written by Jean M. Twinge which raises some concern about how young people are (or are not) adapting to the constant-on internet.
A few the data graphs in the article are particularly striking – like the sharp spike of loneliness among 8, 10 and 12th graders starting in about 2012, combined with the author’s interviews with these kids reflecting a lack of interest in going out with friends since they have constant Snapchat and other Social Media access to each other. The online community simply doesn’t replace the IRL one.
The author’s tendency to blame the ills of the world on mobile technology is a little bit of a reach. She seems amazed that teens will sleep with the phone on or beside their bed at night. Their phone is being used as an alarm clock. If that alone is all that’s happening it’s hardly something to be concerned about. And some of the graphs, while showing an acceleration post-iPhone, are part of a much longer trend. The tendency for teens to spend less time out without their parents could be an effect of technology, or the rising trend of helicopter parenting. Of course, Twinge packs her conclusions in around plenty of reminders that correlation doesn’t equal causation, while yet trying to write the most impactful headlines and make the boldest statements.
Still, I expect to hear much more from Twinge as the book is published and the book tour begins. Regardless of the cause of increased loneliness and suicide rates especially among girls, this is something to pay attention to.
Living in CA it’s easy to get used to the predictability of sun-filled summer days. Afternoon thundershowers up at high elevations – brief if sometimes violent – can break up the blue sky, but the actual sound of thunder… it is the kind of thing worth leaving your desk for in the middle of the working day to run outside in the hopes of catching a flash of lightning inspiration.
This afternoon, the clouds kept things cool, and then right around dinner time we were treated to the gentlest pattering of rain drops – not quite enough to dampen the dirt. I smelled it before I saw or heard anything, that sweet smell of rain on thirsty plants.
Hello! It’s August! June blew by, and July was right on her heels, and I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of August before he hurries off too.
New months mean that I start a new section in my journal – the one I don’t share with anyone, and it’s always exciting to look ahead and dream in private about what I might accomplish with all the newness of a fresh month.
I celebrate new months, and new years of course. I celebrate revolutions around the sun, not necessarily with a big birthday bash, but at least a little to myself. I also celebrate the anniversary of getting a second chance after my big accident, the anniversary of getting married – my best and luckiest decision.
Isn’t it weird that I don’t celebrate every single new day?
One of my favorite John Muir quotes is one that you don’t hear very often. The mountains aren’t calling in this one, and nothing is attached to everything else. I’m not even sure it’s a real quote. Google can’t find it. T shared it with me one day, and I was so enamored that I wrote it down.
“Get up! Get up! Today is the first day of creation! It all begins anew!”
I’m not sure if I care if it’s a real John Muir quote. After all, today is the first day of creation! It all begins anew!
I am irrationally enamored with the popular portrayal of the #vanlife movement, a whole subculture of people who have turned their backs on the idea of needing a big house, a yard, and a picket fence in favor of houses on wheels. A growing number of friends live contentedly-enough in their vans, trading space for the freedom to move about, and finding the best each season has to offer in different parts of the country. Even though I know that the life that happens beyond the edges of an Instagram photo isn’t always so rosy, a real part of me longs to join them. But not yet.
A demanding, more than 40 hour/week job, even if full-time remote, sucks up too much time. We own a house that actually makes us money, that we love, in a place that we love. And yet this dream lingers. I mean, look at the promise of this amazing self-driving, fully electric, AWD beauty! Perhaps when she comes online in 2022 I’ll be ready for van life.
I love that once a year the concerned citizenry in our region puts out a public notice asking everyone to slow down for the butterflies. I think this would happen anywhere, in any community, because who isn’t saddened by piles of broken butterfly wings beside the road, but I’m glad that it happens here. I’m glad that people realized that when vehicles slow down to 25 mph, most butterflies are harmlessly swept up over the cars rather than being smashed, and that they take the time to patiently share that knowledge with the rest of us.