The chance to actually hear, nothing.
Douglas Adams wrote about a creature that discovered the ability to read people’s minds.
A great achievement you’d think, until they realised that they could hear every thought inside every single one of their colleagues minds 24/7/365.
The only way they could blot this out was by talking. Constantly. About. Everything.
As Douglas observed the main thing they talked about was how noisy their world had suddenly become.
A lot like the internet – it’s hard to listen to silence.
Everybody communicates, constantly.l about every single thing that comes in to their heads.
Just like those creatures, every single thought is broadcasted to anyone who will listen 24/7/365.
This is mirrored at work, partly because current business thinking dictates we all work in open plan, collaborative, noisy environments.
It’s hard to find anyone who works any other way now.
But study after study shows that it’s wrong – just like this article from fastcompany.com.
- The silence between noises actually produces more of a calming effect than the music, even if it’s ‘relaxing’ music.
- Noise stops the brain from working and processing information.
- Studies in mice show that silence allows the hippocampus (memory) grow new brain cells.
- Studies show that productivity increases by 23% in more silent workplaces.
This isn’t the only study, it’s common knowledge that current office trends decrease productivity.
So why do business do it – there must be a reason.
Why do cold, heartless, profit-driven companies who want to squeeze every bit of productivity from their people, put up with 23% less productivity?
It must benefit someone – somebody’s productivity is increased by this arrangement, but it certainly isn’t you or I.
So what are the results of the workspaces they favour?
- We are all forced to work collaboratively
(so no individual is responsible for ideas and innovation)
- We are all forced to hear everyone’s opinion or point of view.
(so everyone’s opinion is valid, facilitating the above)
- Meetings are held in the open – no closed doors.
(so no individual can have hidden agendas or opinions)
- You, as an individual, don’t have a ‘space’ that’s your own.
(so no individual can cement themselves in a department)
- Everybody’s job roles are interchangeable.
(so no individual is allowed to grow in their role and become indispensable)
- No hierarchy is allowed.
(so no individual can rise through the ranks because of aptitude)
- No managers are tolerated.
(so no individual can jeopardise the upper echelons of the business)
So the benefit of reducing productivity by 23% is to discourage independent thinking individuals.
Those difficult people, who don’t do things the company way, those people who charge their own paths, regardless of the toes they tread on.
Those people who know they’re right and everyone else is wrong.
You could say they’re the crazy ones.