Nomadism, open plan offices, and alpha male chimps

L0028397 Edward Tyson, Orang-Outang

Seating arrangements in any office can be tricky. People are very sensitive about where they sit and work and if the conditions are not right their productivity can be greatly affected.

I wrote in an earlier post about nomadism for tech writers and this might be the best solution. Personally, what I think is the ideal solution is for a permanent workspace where all tech writers sit, but once a writer has been assigned to a project and the work is ramping up, that the writer then moves and sits beside the project team. A form of nomadism but with a permanent grazing ground with other tech writers that the writer can always return to.

Another issue with work space is the open plan office. If a company does not enforce a strict etiquette on noise levels in an open plan environment, the space itself becomes extremely detrimental to working. I like the concept of open plan, but in practice I have rarely seen it work very well, unless, as I have said, there is a strict rule on noise levels that is enforced.

Another thing, this is just a random thought, is on the placement of top management in companies. In a monkey troop the alpha male is always at the centre of the troop when it is on the move. It is the physical manifestation of the phrase ‘at the centre of things’. Why is it that in quite large companies the top management like to take the top floor away from the rest of the company? In my mind this is a serious error and lacks any insight into psychology or even any kind of thinking whatsoever apart from a ‘king of the castle’ mentality.

But what if top management had their office space at the centre of each floor (if there are multiple floors)? This would make them physically visible as being at the centre of things and I believe instill more loyalty into the workforce for the top brass. I mean, even though we live in a constantly more abstract society our basic emotions are still hard-wired for proximity. Just a thought.

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