Monday, September 28, 2015

Tiny multimedia offices for all

I am a fan of introvert advocacy. In particular, I think that workplaces have placed too much emphasis lately on constant collaboration and not enough on deliberation. When most studies show that companies come up with better ideas when brainstorming is asynchronous, this is particularly worrisome. Furthermore, many workers in open office environments complain about noise pollution, making even simple tasks daunting.

Another large trend in many workplaces is remote working. Obviously, remote working can represent the furthest extreme of the individualist workstyle, which is of course not optimal at all times. Some casual communication and collaboration is surely necessary.

What if instead of offices companies provided workers tiny backyard (or garage) offices outfitted with basic communication technologies? Let's say each office has a four-state switch: off, focused, asynchronous, and synchronous. The "focused" case just notifies others (e.g., your boss) that you are working but are doing something that requires your full attention and shouldn't be bothered. In the asynchronous setting, you can post your work to a "wall" and see others posts as well, allowing you to maintain a lightweight awareness of what others are doing but not demanding too much attention. Finally, the synchronous setting would stream your audio and video, using webcams embedded in the office, to other sites. Stereos on the walls could also provide some "chatter" to simulate the water-cooler effect.

If this approach replaced offices, and all the commuting that goes with them, it would probably be cost effective. Also, having your own dedicated space would allow you to keep paraphernalia around for longer projects, something that is difficult to do in open office environments.

No comments: