Antelopes grazing in the open plan

Here’s another interesting talk on the office working environment, this time from Ben Hammersley. Ben talks about the impossibility of reaching the flow state necessary for any kind of thoughtful work in an environment of constant interruptions, and about the adrenaline levels needed to sustain vigilance against the predators of open plan.

We have optimised being on top of things, rather than getting to the bottom of things

So

Perhaps the future of collaboration is less of it

And he is scathing about the extreme form of hot desking, and the elimination of all physical delineation of social space

It takes away respect for the social relationships which make up the organisation

Some of this, perhaps quite a lot of it, is tied up with the perceived virtue of being busy.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

Thanks to Rich Watts for the video and to Kathryn Corrick for the busyness article, which includes the brilliant line

If your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary.

How many of us could pass that test?