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How to survive in open-space offices.

We are aware of the benefits given by Smart Working and obviously, as proved by the many articles published in WOW!, even in this number, the smart working mode requires a different logic in planning work environments meant as strategic to the company’s growth. It reduces the space reserved for personal use in favour of collaboration, to improve the spontaneous sharing of information.

Non-territorial and activity-based offices imply an open-space layout in most cases, and even if designed by the book, conscious of people’s wellbeing, comfort and privacy requirements, they may raise some major issues among workers.
Especially if the latter are not involved in the change project or informed about the company strategies. This factor was stressed also during the workshop organized by Sedus and IFMA Italia, to understand the characteristics and evolutions of workplaces and furniture for the Smart Working mode.
As explained in Jena McGregor’s interesting articleOffice designers find open-plan spaces are actually lousy for workers. posted on Washington Post “Innovations in the world of office furniture design have tended to serve one of two purposes. Some are designed to help the corporations who pay for them — open-plan offices are supposed to make workers more collaborative, for example, and cubicles or “hotel” desks help save on real estate costs. Then others are designed to help improve workers’ health — like ergonomically designed office seating, balance ball chairs and standing desks”.
The natural “dislike” for the open space isn’t just an Italian problem, as proved by several articles found on International websites that have analyzed the effects of open space on workers and found that the lack of privacy is one of the strongest stress factors. (Talking About a Devolution: The Privacy Crisis in America’s Offices by Ken Ashley of Cushman and Wakefield ) e and suggest some tips to survey “open workplaces hell” Jaquelyn Smith in her article Tips to survey an open space office.” on stuff.co.nz.
With pragmatism and a good dose of sarcasm, Smith proposes 8 solution for what she considers the chief factors of discontent.
1. Take advantage of private conference rooms.
2. Use the golden rule with your colleagues.
3. Don’t invade your neighbour’s territory.
4. Communicate openly.
5. Use a headset and noise cancelling headphones.
6. Be patient.
7. Don’t complain to your boss.
8. Leverage the situation.
Take advantage of the benefits. Keep your eyes and ears open to what’s going on in the company; approach those on the team when it’s a good time; and observe how successful people operate.
Editorial by Renata Sias, editor WOW! Webmagazine.
Plantronics’ smart working office in Paris.

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