The company I work for uses an “open office” layout, presumably to foster communication and collaboration between employees. The cubical walls are low and clear, so as not to become a physical barrier between co-workers. I think management read too many communication theory and organizational management textbooks before they came up with this idea. Quite honestly, they would have been better off reading “Dilbert” books instead.
The open layout fosters communication, but unfortunately the communication consists of large gatherings right outside my cubical. The open layout also fosters the effective propagation of sound waves, causing irreparable hearing loss for people trying to work while meetings are being conducted right outside their cubical. So as not to be entirely negative, I will mention a few positive aspects of this office configuration. The deafening noise from meetings prevent me from hearing the speakerphone discussions and obnoxious cell phone ring tones in the cubicals around me.
The company just issued its “open office environment etiquette” guidelines. Here are a few of my favorites.
To avoid allergic problems and to show respect for your colleagues, avoid strong perfumes: The consequence of this guideline is the dramatically reduced number of women and gay men in the office.
Do not bring hot food with pungent smells into the work area: This guideline has eliminated all Asian and Pacific Islander people from the workplace.
Cell Phones: Use vibrate mode or low and discreet ring signal: This guideline got rid of the “Generation X” crowd and everyone under the age of 25 (and a number of middle aged people who act like they are under the age of 25).
Please ensure that you practice good personal hygiene, including but not limited to: washing hands, controlling body odor and being accountable for maintaining a healthy work environment.: Now this has eliminated a number of “old school” telecom veterans, the coffee drinking, cigarette smoking, jeans wearing (with butt crack showing), old guys from the Ma Bell, pre-regulation days.
While I love the new office etiquette rules, I sure am lonely in the office. Seems like I’m the only one left!