Unintended Consequences of Working Together in a Close Knit Team – "Sardine Rage"

Recent research out of Australia points to the unintended consequences of re-forming offices so team mates sit closer together:

Workplace experts have identified a new condition called “sardine rage” caused by the rising popularity of sprawling open-plan offices and shrinking desk sizes.

Work spaces in the CBD have shrunk by almost a quarter in recent years according to official statistics, as companies seek to cut costs from commercial leases.

With many teams now relocated into tight knit clusters around their manager, some are complaining about a barrage of new noises, unwanted smells, territorial disputes and cramped conditions.

The article continues to discuss:
– That many organizations have gone too far in shrinking the space available to employees.
– An open office can contribute to happenstance meetings, if done right. If not, it’s going to annoy people no end.
– This isn’t just affecting call centre staff, but knowledge workers too.
– Shrinking space affects productivity.
– The golden rule: the bigger the space given to the employee, the more productivity.

My Comments
1. As the article says, there is a trade-off involved. It sounds like some organizations have gone too far in trying to save costs.

2. As a knowledge worker, I need to have lots of space available for spreading out current work. Given that my office is in my home, and we built the house, I’ve got a pretty ideal set up right now. It really works for me – having different zones in the office for doing different types of work.

3. It’s been 13 years since I worked in an “office-proper,” supplied by my employer. My recollection was it was alright at the time – I probably had 10 square meters at the time that was “my space.” I did find the background noise distracting though, especially since I didn’t work directly with any of the people I sat with.

4. What’s your office set up like? Does it work for you, and the type of work you have to get done? What could you change to make it better for you and your organization?

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