Why do you like to hide in the office
In a modern open-plan office with a wide view, which of the following three locations do you prefer?
A. The closest to the water dispenser, you can always observe the indicator light, so that you can grab the water at the first time.
B. Beside the floor-to-ceiling window where you can see poetry and the distance.
C. Behind the wall is a flexed corner.
I think there must be a lot of people who, like me, reluctantly gave up good feng shui and the convenience of life, and chose to become “lone soul wild ghosts” in dark corners. That is because boiled water is precious and the scenery is more expensive. If it is free, both can be sold.
In the eyes of many people, open office space represents an efficient way of working. Middle managers believe that open spaces are conducive to teamwork and knowledge sharing; senior managers particularly like the atmosphere in which people work together, and believe that this is conducive to building a strong corporate culture.
But can open spaces really improve office efficiency? More importantly, what is the true feeling of employees?
Harvard Business Review published a set of feature articles on “love and hate in the office” in 2014, which seriously discussed this place where we spend the second longest time in our lives.
Office: The war of privacy and openness
A survey on “employees’ feelings about office space” showed that Chinese employees and Western employees have very different views on office space.
Although the average office space occupied by Chinese employees is only 15.4% of German employees and 26% of American employees, the proportion of those who think they can “not be disturbed” is more than 20% higher.
Maybe it’s used to the crowded environment with many people and few people. Chinese employees don’t care about the size of the office.
However, the survey found that this does not mean that Chinese employees have low requirements for “uninterrupted work”. In fact, what we care about most is “someone is watching you”, and what we need is “not to be watched by others” at work.
Therefore, in Chinese offices, the most popular desk is not necessarily a well-ventilated, well-lit, open space, but rather a corner of the wall-even if it is near the corner of the bathroom and corridor.
Summarized in one sentence: Where can you make your computer screen avoid everyone’s eyes, where is the treasure of Feng Shui.
Whether Chinese or Western employees, their feelings show that “employee engagement and satisfaction” is highly related to “uninterrupted work”, and open spaces are more easily disturbed than traditional “grid rooms”.
This poses a challenge to open office spaces: managers want more communication between employees, and employees prefer to keep personal privacy.
Exposure to an open space lacking a sense of privacy. At the beginning, pressure from the public will make employees’ behavior more standardized, but with it comes self-conscious anti-repression behavior.
The arm cannot twist the thigh, but the arm has its own method to deal with the thigh.
Employees have invented various “pretend work” methods to protect themselves; Internet product managers have also designed various “boss keys” to help us deal with bosses.
In the end, a vicious circle will form: the more transparent the organization, the more closed the individual; the more efficient the space, the less efficient the individual will be.
But can employees really only be the party that has been “intensified in management education”?
What happens to production lines that are separated
In order to study the behavior of employees in the work space, management scientists chose an assembly line of a large mobile phone foundry in China and arranged five researchers and workers to live and work together.
They found that even in a non-privacy space like an assembly line, workers still thought of many ways to “protect themselves.”
For example, the operation specifications require that the barcode be affixed to the mobile phone before scanning, but workers often scan multiple barcodes at one time, because this can speed up the assembly.
Illegal operations by workers will increase the rate of defective products and they will also be fined. We know that all operating standards are to achieve the Pareto optimal choice of efficiency and quality. Why should workers choose illegal operations that harm their own interests?
Once, a worker joked that he very much wanted a curtain to separate everyone, so that he would not be disturbed by others.
The researchers immediately thought of the “Hawthorne effect” —people who realize they are being observed by others have a tendency to change their behavior. They believe that this may be due to the violations of one or two employees, which began to be followed by the entire workshop.
Out of self-interest considerations, employees often try to improve their working methods, but too transparent space will prompt employees to keep secrets of what they want to do, so as not to ridicule the public.
So they chose 4 production lines and designed some curtains, just like the lattice room in the office, which divided the large production workshop into small groups of several people.
Five months later, the researchers found that the yield of the control group was 10% to 15% higher than the normal group, while the defective rate remained unchanged.
According to the researchers’ observations in the compartments, the curtains alleviated the “feeling of exposure” and strengthened the “intimacy” of the groups in the compartments, prompting them to learn from each other, thereby improving efficiency.
In fact, the method of setting the curtain has been used by some high-tech companies that emphasize innovation. This is the “conspiracy team” of Wellford Software, a well-known game company that has developed “Counter-Strike”.
Why the desk has wheels
When a new employee at Villefort Software joins the company, there will be a question: “Why do my desk have wheels?”
As to this question, the “Employee Onboarding Handbook” explains this: “These wheels are reminding you if they can Go to a more valuable place? People here often move because we don’t let you have a management structure that must be fixed in a certain location. ”
Villefort Software believes that any new idea, if you try to make it public at the beginning, strive for Everyone’s support, in all likelihood, will die because of ridicule.
On the contrary, the best way to protect innovation is to keep it secret, and set up a “conspiracy group” in private to win a few supporters to build a prototype for new ideas, gradually attract more and more people to join, and finally move from private to transparent.
So the “Employee Onboarding Manual” said: “We will not tell you which project team you should join, you have to make your own decisions. Employees can support or deny project proposals. Good projects are easy to attract others to join, and on any given day, Weir There will be many different groups within Fu Software to persuade you to join them. ”
Villefort Software’s “conspiracy team” may not be suitable for all companies, but it gives us an inspiration-the open communication that the company wants and the privacy protection that employees want are not completely contrary.
It is our previous definition of the problem that deviates. The focus of the problem is not “openness of space”, but “openness of working methods”.
What is your “social vitality value” today
Management scientists conducted a large-scale experiment. They placed thousands of badges with positioning and recording (voluntarily worn by employees, anonymous data) in different office spaces of various enterprises, and analyzed the space density, employee distance and After a large amount of data on social behavior, many conclusions are reached that are contrary to previous views.
For example, the research team analyzed the “badge statistics” of a pharmaceutical company’s sales team. The data shows that the sales team should break the practice of communication within the group, because each 10% increase in cross-group interaction will increase sales by 10% accordingly.
These analyses show that company managers’ previous desire to increase employee communication was very correct. Face-to-face communication (rather than email) is the core interaction method to advance work.
But open office spaces haven’t changed that. The analysis found that the most effective face-to-face communication does not occur at adjacent desks or conference rooms, but rather occasional encounters and small talk outside the work space, such as next to a coffee machine.
The study designed a new metric called “Social Vitality,” which refers to the number of times an employee meets with other colleagues in a day.
These findings suggest that companies re-examine the inherent role of office space to increase the value of “social activity.” For example, coffee machines were purely coffee breaks in the past, but data show that coffee machines are actually the company’s most important social center and the collision point of various ideas.
Finally, the pharmaceutical company transformed the coffee machine into a coffee table that can be used by 120 people at the same time, and transformed the coffee table into a small cafe. In the following quarter, the company’s sales increased by 20%.
It used to be said that if you want to get the correct answer on the Internet, don’t ask questions, but post a blunt answer. According to this statement, if you want others to be happy to discuss the problem with you, don’t go to the other person’s seat to draw a meeting, but pretend to meet by the coffee machine and ask a question accidentally …
The analysis report also provided some suggestions for the renovation of the existing office settings: the proportion of office public space should be increased, and additional office facilities should be provided for these public spaces; employees responsible for product development should share a large table as much as possible, which can communicate quickly and Can move more efficiently; creative work does not require a fixed office location, and public office space can be arranged; all employees’ welfare facilities must consider creating specific social networks to enhance interaction between employees in different business lines .
The most useless stuff in the office
The modern office space is constantly evolving. From the early functional space to the later coffers, to the present open space, the boss is like a shepherd, always trying to get employees together, and employees are looking for secret spaces , Resisting silently.
In fact, the way to enhance communication between employees is not to make employees sit closer, nor to disrupt the boundaries of the department and allow employees to sit together, let alone to work without a fixed seat. value”.
I don’t think employees should have much resistance to this idea. The real obstacle lies in the managers.
For example, data shows that only 20% of effective communication occurs in formal reporting. Therefore, the least necessary presence in the office space is the manager’s favorite meeting room.
I think the best way to renovate existing conference rooms is to talk to the gym.