Comments

ScottOctober 21, 2016 9:56 AM

Interesting! My company is trying "agile" with its daily stand-ups, and managers and directors often sit in. It's disheartening when you have to report "no progress yet" on recreating or debugging a potential race condition seen once on one unit in the field.

ThaneOctober 21, 2016 10:08 AM

Don't think these studies will reverse anything - the purpose of massing workers together isn't to increase their productivity, but to break their morale.

markOctober 21, 2016 11:35 AM

What Amazing News!

And how does this relate to, when I first went to college right out of high school in '66, in the orientation, they told us to find a quiet place where we wouldn't be distracted or interrupted when were were studying or doing homework.

Show me a CEO who works in the middle of an "open plan" office, with the exact same furniture and layout as the employees. Which, of course, leads to the old, old Dilbert cartoon, that what comes next is they put Velcro vests on us, and hang us on the wall....

mark

My InfoOctober 21, 2016 12:02 PM

Two sides to that. Yeah, everyone wants to be able to sit in a corner office, slack off, and surf porn at work. I actually prefer a more open office floor plan, especially when there is supposed to be a team effort to be productive and get stuff done. If other people are bothering me, looking over my shoulder, chatting off-topic, or otherwise not letting me do my job in such a situation, then obviously they don't have enough work to do themselves.

Another form of privacy that enhances work is to reduce the degree to which every decision is observed by management. So, for example, a retail chain that uses an algorithm to assign work shifts now lets individual store managers revise the algorithm's schedule without having to clear the decision with headquarters. After it granted its local managers this modicum of privacy, the chain's profits rose.

Micromanagement is a different issue from privacy altogether. It is not surprising that a store's profits would suffer when it hires individual store managers but refuses to let them do their jobs. If individual worker's schedules (for shift work) are so inflexible that have to be set and cleared by headquarters, the individual stores will suffer from low morale, high turnover, and lost profits when someone has a previous commitment and can't show up for work at some particular time set by a so-called "algorithm."

Furthermore, with an "algorithm," certain individuals will be targeted, and deliberately assigned extra shifts at times when they have legitimate previous commitments, and have their hours cut at times when they are available to work. This stuff is old hat, and has been going on for a long time...

My InfoOctober 21, 2016 12:05 PM

Sorry, "workers' schedules," not "worker's schedules." My grammar, spelling, an punctuation are terrible of late.

Peter S. ShenkinOctober 21, 2016 5:51 PM

The observation that the production lines that were curtained off were more productive might well be explained by the Hawthorne Effect. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect)

Dustin RodriguezOctober 22, 2016 9:05 AM

It's almost as if using office designs that were created to be useful in manufacturing settings with repetitive physical labor in modern settings with mental work isn't a good idea...

John Wayne's Evil TwinOctober 22, 2016 10:02 AM

"Yeah, everyone wants to be able to sit in a corner office, slack off, and surf porn at work."

No, some of us actually want to be able to concentrate on a genuinely important task without having two manbabies jawjacking over last night's "big game" between the Allentown Aardvaarks and the Germanville Giraffes, or a gaggle of twits clucking about their new diet plan -- let alone some walking clipboard interrupting that task every five minutes to either ask about "progress" or announce another "meeting".

The biggest obstacle to problem-solving by intelligent people is often someone/everyone else's inability to STFU. "The office" is a barnyard, and usually produces large quantities of the same product.

John Wayne's Evil TwinOctober 22, 2016 10:06 AM

Wifey comes through again: "The nurse that wakes you up to give you your sleeping pill."

My InfoOctober 22, 2016 12:47 PM

@r

How do you know the mistakes are your own?
You own up to them??

Not saying they are or aren't in any particular case. Especially on "devices" like tablets or phones, but also on PCs, I often have to fight hyper-aggressive and sometimes subtly erroneous spellcheck and auto-correction that often cannot be disabled. Probably a virus on said devices. Some people call it "stupidware" because it makes them look stupid.

Clive RobinsonOctober 22, 2016 2:13 PM

@ Dustin Rodriguez,

It's almost as if using office ... isn't a good idea...

It never was, just about every piece of realy independent research in this area has concluded that the average human is only mentally productive for about 4-6 hours a day after which they show physiological changes not to disimilar to those found in those carrying out physical work they are not used to.

That is they are tired, clumsy, and slow cognitively, with eyesight and hearing also adversly effected.

However physical work is only mentaly demanding when "new" to a person, once learned and in the hind brain it usually can be carried out for very long periods of time without causing mental degradation...

markOctober 24, 2016 11:39 AM

Clive,

You write, "...It never was, just about every piece of realy independent research in this area has concluded that the average human is only mentally productive for about 4-6 hours a day..."

What I've heard was that the original Ford, wound up going with the union pushing an 8 hour day, because his own research showed that workers on the line were less productive beyond that point (as opposed to, say, the 16 hour day that was still common at the time).

But All Computer People Know that They're So Important that they need to answer the boss when he calls with a bright idea he came up with at 01:30, and that working 10, 12, and 15 hour days just proves how critical they are to the company.... (personal time? family? those aren't important....)

I would have *LOVED* to join a union decades ago, so, for example, I could have gone to a union hall and gotten hired, rather than spending most of the Bush Recession of the first half of the oughts "between positions".

mark

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Resilient, an IBM Company.