Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8The Open Office Trend By: Angela Davis Clark, HR Director As everyone saw in the last issue of the VIP, the HR, Government and Community Relations, Finance and Election Center Divisions have relocated to our new offices in the Edison Center located at 701 W. Ormsby Avenue Rooms 301-302, Louisville, KY 40203. These offices had been located at the Urban Government Center for over twenty years. This move was a long time coming; the tentative move date changed a couple of times due to construction delays. There was a lot of excitement and anxiety as we waited for a final move date. We moved to our new location on July 22, 2016. When we saw the plans, the excitement increased as we imagined moving in our newly renovated building, with brand new furniture, and lots of natural lighting. However, there was some anxiety from those who would be losing private offices. Although, those in the Election Center were accustomed to the open office concept, the other divisions at the Urban Government Center were not. There was a lot of speculation about how would we do this or that, with no privacy. We had to prepare ourselves for the open office concept. The open office concept has been around for decades. The basic layout of the corporate office of the past had remained largely unchanged until the 1960s, with employees sitting behind rows of traditional desks in a large open room that was devoid of privacy. In 1960 Herman Miller created the Herman Miller Research Corporation. The Herman Miller Corporation was hired to solve problems related to the use of furniture. Robert Propst studied the ways people work in an office, how information travels, and how the office layout affects their job performance. Mr. Propst’s studies suggested that the old open environment actually reduced communication between employees, and impeded personal initiative. Mr. Propst concluded that office workers required both privacy and interaction, depending on which of their many duties they were performing. Therefore, in 1964, George Nelson and Mr. Propst created Action Office furniture, aka Action Office I. It featured desks and workspaces of varying height that allowed the worker freedom of movement, and the flexibility to assume the work position best suited for the task. It was suited for small offices in which managers and employees often interacted using the same furnishings. However, it was expensive, difficult to assemble, and wasn’t suited for offices at large corporations. Mr. Propst and Mr. Nelson went back and looked at how to create furniture for the next-generation. They designed Action Office II which introduced the concept of flexible, semi-enclosed workspaces, now better known as cubicles. It was suited to fit the changing needs of the employee, without having to purchase new furnishings. The employee had a degree of privacy, and the ability to personalize their work environment without impacting the environment of the workers around them. Mr. Propst recognized that people are more productive within a territorial enclave that they can personalize. The components were interchangeable, standardized, and simple to assemble and install. The Action Office II line became Herman Miller Corporation’s most successful project. By 2005 the total sales reached $5 billion. In the early 2000s, the new era of the open office concept dawned. Open office concepts free workers from their cubicles; and, it allows for more employees in smaller spaces, making overhead cheaper. About 70 percent of U.S. offices have no or low partitions, according to the International Facility Management Association. Silicon Valley has been the leader in bringing down the dividers. Companies like Yahoo, eBay, Goldman Sachs, American Express, and Facebook have open concept offices. Facebook has one of the largest open floor plans housing nearly 3000 engineers. Proponents suggest that open office spaces ease the interactions of colleagues and builds camaraderie. However, some opponents believe that open office spaces damage workers’ attention spans, productivity, creativity, and satisfaction. Prior to moving, we had to commit to abiding by the Open Office Protocol for the Edison Center. That document explained the guidelines for working in an open office space. We committed to the guidelines; and, try to respect each other’s space. So far, I think everyone has adjusted well and is working well together. It doesn’t matter whether we have private offices or open offices, it’s business as usual around here at the Edison Center. We still offer the same VIP service. If you get a chance, stop by and visit us. Ferro, Shane, “To Work, Open Offices Need To Be A Little Less Open” Huffington Post, October 15, 2015, Retrieved 09/23/2016. Kaufman, Lindsey, “Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace” December 30, 2014, The Washington Post,, Retrieved on 09/26/2016. Action Office -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Retrieved on 09/26/2016. 3