The Officeless Office Goes To Japan

from the sounds-familiar dept

Years back, advertising Chiat/Day made headlines for doing away with traditional office space, letting employees wander around each day to find a comfortable spot they could work. In the end, it appears this didn’t go over too well with many employees who actually liked having a desk. Not to be deterred, a couple years ago, Sun did something similar, aiming to get as many employees as possible without offices. There hasn’t been much info lately on how that’s worked out. However, NEC, in Japan, seems to be taking a similar idea and testing it out. They’re setting up their own officeless offices, hoping it will drive more sales of their own products. Among the innovations: no chairs in conference rooms (no walls, either, but that’s a different point). The idea is that, if you’re all standing, the meetings go faster. Only the slow and lazy need to sit. So far, it’s worked. Overall conference use time is down 70% while meetings apparently go 20% faster. What no one answered, however, is whether or not that’s a good thing. We can all say it’s good to have shorter meetings, but what if these fast meetings miss something? Also, the drop in conference room use could be misleading as well. With these non-walled conference rooms without any chairs, I imagine many people simply decide to meet elsewhere entirely — perhaps somewhere that has chairs. Some of the other innovations are interesting, such as a system that locks up your computer when you walk away, and replacing telephones with laptop based VoIP (including a USB handset for those who just can’t let go). Then, there’s the fact that there’s only room for about 80% of the office’s employees. The others don’t telecommute, but apparently have found that they end up visiting customers more often. Again, while that sounds good, what if they shouldn’t be visiting customers more? Perhaps they’re wasting their time (or annoying customers). Overall, it’s an interesting experiment, but there are likely to be unintended consequences (including annoyed and uncomfortable employees), so it’s tough to tell if this is just different — of useful.

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Comments on “The Officeless Office Goes To Japan”

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Tomas Bella (user link) says:

it works in Norway

Telenor in Norway is very successul with oficeless office at their new headquarters in Fornebu (near Oslo). At least they say so, but from what I have seen, the employees seems quite happy with it after they got used to it.

me (profile) says:

I can't believe this isn't the standard

Frankly, with the tech we have around us, we should have been doing this YEARS ago EVERYWHERE. The Chiat/Day link, however, shows us the problem: people who will do anything NOT to change.
“Each day, Miller would pile all of her documents, files, and possessions into her wagon, and begin to drag it up and down the halls, looking for the empty desk of someone out sick for the day.”
I’m sorry, but WTF?!!? Time to can her sorry ass…If you can’t figure out how to be efficient and are one of those people with a slovenly desk filled with personal crap…then go work from home…where you can have all the “dog pictures”,”kid’s drawings”,etc you want…let the boss know when you actually want to get to work so he can stop looking for your replacement.
Bottom line:
The technology is THERE, NOW. If you’re still photocopying printjobs to fax to someone(eye witness..ack) instead of email because ‘shirley’,the old doll of the office, “doesn’t get” computers…then you’ll be out of business sooner than you think…

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