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Facebook and BBC Lead Open-Plan Office Revolution

Facebook and BBC Lead Open-Plan Office Revolution

The era of the open-plan office is officially here, as Facebook and the BBC lead the charge in favour of more co-operative workspaces.

Last month, Facebook announced plans to bring famous architect Frank Gehry on board to design the worldΓÇÖs largest open plan office.

ΓÇ£Just like we do now, everyone will sit out in the open with desks that can be quickly shuffled around as teams form and break apart around projects,ΓÇ¥ said FacebookΓÇÖs Environmental Design Manager, Everett Katigbak.

“There will be cafés and lots of micro-kitchens with snacks so that you never have to go hungry. And we’ll fill the building with break-away spaces with couches and whiteboards to make getting away from your desk easy.”

Facebook has always been one to break new ground in futuristic thinking and building better social connections, but now the online giant has been joined by the once-traditionalist BBC.

BBC Opens Offices

As early as 2006, the BBC announced its desire for open-plan office space in the building of brand new Broadcast House.

But, having sold the old Television Centre and fully relocated to Central London, the 85-year-old broadcasting monopolist has now gone a step further in abolishing the private office of the Director General himself.

Taking over from Mark Thompson this month, new BBC Director General George Entwistle has taken a simple plastic desk to work right in the heart of his team on an open-plan floor.

ΓÇ£The days of the oak-panelled office are over, even for the Director General,ΓÇ¥ said a BBC spokesperson. ΓÇ£ThereΓÇÖs a TV nearby that will have rolling BBC news but that is about as glamorous as it gets.ΓÇ¥

A Brighter Future?

It seems increasingly likely that open-plan offices are the workspaces of the future. But is that a good thing or a bad thing?

On the plus side, more open offices are associated with better light and easier communication with colleagues. A modern design such as that pictured (Lombard Street) can make an office feel more connected and contemporary.

But for some, open-plan offices foster distractions, stress and illness. Professionals complain of hovering bosses, gossiping co-workers and constant passers-by.

Studies conflict on this issue. Some research finds evidence of better engagement and improved productivity; others find increased ambient noise levels impacting negatively on work habits.

Which side of the fence do you come down on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Author: | September 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

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