Monday, September 22, 2014

Would You Rather The Workspace Of A Prostitute Or A Currency Trader?

What is good design?

Good design is design that meets the user's needs.

Workspace design is no exception.

Let's hear what a prostitute, a currency trader, and an advertising creative have to say on the subject:



Hi, I'm Leila. I'm a prostitute. My job relies on being able to create a very special bond between two people. We need privacy. We need to be able to shut out the outside world, in a space where we're not observed or overheard, where we can say anything and do anything, however crazy, if it feels right. That's when the results are truly mind-blowing. Hence, my workspace really has to be a private room; open plan wouldn't meet my needs at all. So what do I get? Ah, a private room. Cool.




Hi, I'm Jim. I'm a currency trader. My job relies on constant contact with a large team. We need openness. We need to be able to see each other and talk to each other - even shout at each other - at all times. It's great when it's noisy, there's a buzz, we thrive on that energy. That's when the results are mind-blowing. Hence, my workspace really has to be open-plan; a private room wouldn't meet my needs at all. So what do I get? Ah, open plan. Cool.




Hi, I'm Matt. I'm an ad agency creative. My job relies on being able to create a very special bond between two people. We need privacy. We need to be able to shut out the outside world, in a space where we're not observed or overheard, where we can say anything and do anything, however crazy, if it feels right. That's when the results are truly mind-blowing. Hence, my workspace really has to be a private room; open plan wouldn't meet my needs at all. So what do I get? Oh, I see. Open plan. Why? Okay, I'm happy to give up the door, can I at least have some walls - they can even be glass ones - so I can have a little privacy, and put my work up? No? Fuck it. I'll just put my headphones on. Maybe pop out to a cafe later.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you depicted the prostitute actually doing her 'job' you would have got even more 'cut through'

JB said...

Nearly every agency I've worked at had open plan. Management always tried to sell it in as a modern way of working. But we all knew it was just cheaper.

Not a single creative I've ever talked to wants to work in open plan.

Scamp said...

JB, I hear the 'cheaper' argument a fair bit. And I'm not sure I believe it. Surely you could fit 6 smallish glass offices into the same open-plan space currently occupied by 12 creatives?

Bear said...

Couldn't agree more, Scamp.

b said...

Plus you get fucked while you make someone else rich!

Headphones on said...

Sad truth. Worked in 5 different agencies and they are all open plan...

Nearly a reason to move to DDB ( if the layout is still the same as it was during my Award school days way back )

Old CD Guy said...

You've nailed it. Creating ideas needs undisturbed concentration without interruption or distraction. Well, it does for me. Toward the end of my working life the fashion became open plan. We called the new fashion 'The Call Centre'. So it was time to take my bat & ball and go. I heard the arguments in favour of open plan and thought they were bullshit - dreamed up by management types who, being a little like currency traders, can perhaps function in a noisy environment. I'd like to hear from creatives who actually prefer open plan - and most importantly, why.

tim berriman said...

brilliant!

David Brent said...

Creatives having their own offices were given back in the day when Creatives actually ran the business. When creative teams actually were respected and seen as an investment not a liability. Where thinking and work was proudly displayed on walls. Nowadays, the office is run by suits. Get teams in, get teams out. Get the job done. It's about process and profitability. It's sad, but it's reality.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever see the BBC Horizon doco about creativity?

They did neuroimaging to look at the brain during an “aha moment”, and it showed that it flashed up in the right temporal lobe, but most importantly, the frontal lobe needed to be quiet.

Of course, the frontal lobe is the one that worries about everything around us and how we’re behaving. So we do need quiet safe spaces to work. It’s science.

n said...

0903
N.

Yes this is true, open plan is
bad for agencies bottom line
but saves them a few partitions.
A false economy indeed.
so you get interrupted constantly in a game where being able to think wins.

Scamp said...

That's exactly what I don't get. How much could a few partitions possibly cost? Not much. Sometimes I wonder if there's something else behind it all, some kind of conspiracy...

Anonymous said...

It's not the money argument. It's so everyone else can keep an eye on you. See what you're working (or not working) on. This creates constant paranoia between people. "Oh, did you see what John is working on? He got a new brief in. Wish I had something cool to do other than these bloody 5 second idents for cat litter boxes."

By the way Scamp, I remember you wrote a blog post about redesigning the offices of RKCRYR once. Been looking for it but couldn't find it.

Scamp said...

Maybe it was Ben who wrote about RKCRY&R? He used to work there.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure it was on your blog. It was about the different spaces set up to get creatives creative. Small wooden booths and all that.

Scamp said...

Let me know if you find it.

Daniel via Twitter said...

Lock me in a dark room with a fresh pad, an art director and a big marker pen – All. Day Long.

Anonymous said...

Spent the last year sat right beside the only set of speakers in an open plan office, alternating between blasting me with techno or blaring out hip hop while I'm trying to think.

Boss repeatedly ignored requests to either move me, or move the speakers... was a major factor in my decision to leave...

Jessica said...

That's the most serious "would you rather" question I've ever heard... nothing compared to the usual questions kids these days ask (like the ones on rrrather.com), where both choices are terrible.

officeanyday said...


had my own office, and worked in open plan.

goes without saying which one is better for work.

love getting told: "but we have break out rooms you can use!"

...when they are always being used for meetings.

or when someone bigger and more highly paid than you commandeers the space and kicks you out so they can call their mistress.

macca said...

Even though offices are open plan and designed to increase collaboration and communication across departments the truth is the invisible walls and office politics are more at force than ever

Sell! Sell! said...

Totally agree Scamp. I've worked in both environments, and it's offices every time for me. The only reason we work well without at the moment is that we are such a small group, with quite a lot of space. At the point where we are a little bigger, it will be offices every time for us.

Daniel Madden said...

There was an interesting BBC article about how the use of open plan space now is nowhere near how it was originally intended.

Originally open plan was supposed to be broken up by planting, set around a more organic layout (not a grid of desks).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21878739

I'd still rather have my own office though. McCann Manchester have 3 walled offices with an open 4th wall. Better than nowt.