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From Ars Technica:

Open offices are as bad as they seem—they reduce face-to-face time by 70%

To encourage unbounded, collective intelligence, offices may need physical boundaries.
BETH MOLE – 7/13/2018, 11:08 AM

Tearing down walls and cubicles in offices may actually build up more barriers to productivity and collaboration, according to a new study.

Employees at two Fortune 500 multinational companies saw face-to-face interaction time drop by about 70 percent, the use of email increase between 22 percent and 56 percent, and productivity slip after their traditional office spaces were converted to open floor plans—that is, ones without walls or cubicles that ostensibly create barriers to interaction. The findings, published recently in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggest that removing physical dividers may, in fact, make it harder for employers to foster collaboration and collective intelligence among their employees.

Many companies have waged a so-called “war on walls” to try to create such vibrant workspaces, the authors Ethan Bernstein and Stephen Turban of Harvard wrote. But, “what they often get—as captured by a steady stream of news articles professing the death of the open office—is an open expanse of proximal employees choosing to isolate themselves as best they can (e.g. by wearing large headphones) while appearing to be as busy as possible (since everyone can see them).”

Similarly, when you go to an open house of a home for sale, the real estate lady always draws your attention to the Open Plan layout and you enthusiastically reply: This house is just one big room: it would be great for parties!

But of course I give parties about once every half-dozen years. What I really want in a house is a lot of small rooms where I can get away from distractions. For example, awhile ago I gave up my office for use as another bedroom and moved my computer to a folding coffee table in the walk-in closet of my bedroom. It’s great! I’m totally isolated, which is what I need to concentrate.

 
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  1. I hate open plan homes. If you dare to cook anything that throws off smoke & smell, e.g. bacon, your entire home starts to stink of immediately, and a layer of grease builds up over time over time.

    • Replies: @Rosie
    , @Jasper Been
  2. Achilles says:

    iSteve won’t come out of the closet!

    • LOL: Mr. Rational
  3. Mr. Anon says:

    OT – Trump’s remarks about changing European culture draw ire………….of Heidi Beirich:

    https://apnews.com/ed94c3cc96244e9fbf779988415c7bab

    Why anyone should care what professional extortionist Heidi Beirich thinks is not made clear.

    Check out the twitter feeds of the article’s authors – a professional black and a professional hispanic:

    https://twitter.com/jessejholland

    http://twitter.com/russcontreras

    Top. Men.

    • Replies: @Svigor
  4. Lot says:

    iSteve is run from a closet, not a standing desk in a tasteful 70s designer office with multimonitors and a cute ethnically ambiguous secretary guarding the door, and a window overlooking palm trees and Fred Rabbit Jr.’s hutch?

    Next thing you’ll tell me is that Radio Derb is not recorded on one of Taki’s islands.

    • Replies: @Svigor
  5. This is how the bathroom came to be known as the Fortress of Solitude.

    • Replies: @Cortes
    , @Rosie
  6. J1234 says:

    It’s obvious to most people that doing away with borders isn’t an attempt to build something, it’s an attempt to destroy something.

    What I really want in a house is a lot of small rooms where I can get away from distractions. For example, awhile ago I gave up my office for use as another bedroom and moved my computer to a folding coffee table in the walk-in closet of my bedroom… I’m totally isolated, which is what I need to concentrate.

    • Replies: @Father O'Hara
  7. Hockamaw says:

    The open office model always struck me as a terrible way to get work done. You just know that in practice it’s nothing but women gossiping nonstop and nowhere to escape.

    • Replies: @Anon
  8. Here’s the trailer for an intriguing new show.

    Read more below. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Purge_(franchise)

    The Purge is an American horror franchise, consisting of four films, The Purge (2013), The Purge: Anarchy (2014), The Purge: Election Year (2016) and The First Purge (2018), and an upcoming television series, also bearing the name The Purge. It is based on a future dystopic America, where every year there is a 12-hour period during which all crime, including murder, is legal. It was created by James DeMonaco, who also wrote all the movies and directed the first three films.

    The Purge series has received a generally mixed critical reception, and has grossed over $329 million in the worldwide box office against a combined budget of $37 million.

    I wonder if the show is a reflection of an increasingly dystopian America.

  9. Open office is a stupid idea, right up there with 2 story foyers in houses. A famous study years ago found that programmer productivity increased if the programmers had offices – with doors.

    • Replies: @CCZ
    , @anonymous
  10. Cortes says:

    When I had to get peace for doing proper research it was necessary to jumpstart the day by several hours or work way into the evening. That was in an open plan office. The core hours of business were largely barren wasteland for legal research owing to the multiple distractions.

  11. Rosie says:
    @The Alarmist

    Then they don’t even bother to give you a vented range hood, opting for one of those stupid microhood things that don’t work. I hate builder-grade junk.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  12. Cortes says:
    @Faraday's Bobcat

    I recall a Scottish divorce case (Kelly v Kelly, l think) in which the decision rested on the unreasonable behaviour of the husband in removing and refusing to replace the bathroom door!

  13. Rosie says:
    @Faraday's Bobcat

    I’m totally isolated, which is what I need to concentrate.

    One of my favorite places in the house has always been the bottom bunk in one of my kids’ rooms.

    I wonder how common it is for people to have mild agoraphobia. It’s almost like I have a very subtle, primal fear of predators that distracts me in large rooms. I do my best thinking in very closed spaces.

  14. teotoon says:

    Wife tells iSteve she needs bedroom so use the closet; iSteve says, “Yes, dear.”

    • Replies: @International Jew
    , @Rosie
  15. 3g4me says:

    “Many companies have waged a so-called “war on walls” to try to create such vibrant workspaces . . .”

    Another one of the left’s ideas that will never die. My early ’60s-built elementary school had two sets of adjoining classrooms separated by a wall that could be folded back to create one large room. It wasn’t done often because of the chaos that ensued. When I visited the local elementary schools here in DFW before deciding on private school for my kids, I was struck by the absence of walls in many of the school district’s older buildings – which were at least 2 decades newer than my elementary school. Same idiocy, dusted off, renamed, and pushed out again in the name of progress.

    “Similarly, when you go to an open house of a home for sale, the real estate lady always draws your attention to the Open Plan layout and you enthusiastically reply: This house is just one big room: it would be great for parties!”

    Yeah, when we bought our house 26 years ago we thought the open, upstairs loft was a terrific and innovative feature. After a few years of living with it we kicked ourselves for not choosing the offered option of having it finished and closed off as another bedroom (would still have used it as kids’ tv room/play room, but would have gained another closet, kept the noise level down, and it could have functioned as an extra guestroom when needed). I hate open plan houses. Give me walls and doors!

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Iberiano
  16. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    Michael Crichton was once asked by Diane Sawyer about why his writing office was so small. He quoted da Vinci in response: “a small space concentrates the mind”.

  17. From my experience in the “corporate” world, there’s a strong emphasis on appearing to be busy. People love sending huge numbers of e-mails, sitting in as many meetings as possible, attaching their name to numerous projects (even if their contribution is minimal), and constantly complaining about how they’re “overscheduled.”

    It’s interesting because a disproportionate share of the “busiest” individuals are often people who seem to produce little, if any, value for the organization. There are plenty of people with vague job responsibilities who don’t seem to accomplish anything, but are ever-present in every meeting and every e-mail thread. Even more oddly, these people are disproportionately the individuals who get promoted into management………..

    These days, you really can’t disconnect from the office. Even once you go home, you’re expected to be “available.” So late into the night (and sometimes when I sleep), I continue to have my e-mail box flooded with extraneous messages. Even if the e-mail isn’t addressed to you specifically, you still have to read it to understand the political dynamics of the day-to-day turf struggle in your organization.

    When you move from enclosed offices/cubicles to open spaces, managers&managers are under even more pressure to give the appearance of busyness. Appearing to be busy can be a “job” in and of itself, often a very time-consuming “job” that takes time from your real responsbilities.

    The sentence below (from the article) doesn’t surprise me.

    Employees at two Fortune 500 multinational companies saw face-to-face interaction time drop by about 70 percent, the use of email increase between 22 percent and 56 percent, and productivity slip after their traditional office spaces were converted to open floor plans

    The increase in e-mail is just employees working harder to appear busy.

    • Agree: Travis
  18. Nathan says:

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://southpark.cc.com/clips/5uy6v2/flipping-houses-is-fun&ved=0ahUKEwjh8tfVwJ_cAhWMTt8KHXSuCKIQyCkIJzAA&usg=AOvVaw2b36hPbgHsZbY1TDPiMXvK

    South Park hit this one on the head, in which Randy Marsh enjoys knocking down walls to create an “open concept,” while his wife has to think about what to actually do to renovate.

  19. I knew California had gotten worse since my last visit a few years ago, but this is beyond parody. Steve’s been forced to house illegals in his spare bedroom and relocate himself into a walk-in closet? We need to create a GoFundMe to pay Steve’s relocation costs to a much nicer locale – like Detroit..

    The bright side is that it won’t cost much. We can still get him into a nice spacious house in Detroit’s best neighborhood (Indian Village) with six beds and six baths for under $100,000:

    https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1118-Seyburn-St-Detroit-MI-48214/88370692_zpid/?utm_source=txtshare

    • LOL: Mr. Rational
    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  20. Wait, I know, let’s make the walls out of GLASS:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2018/03/05/employees-kept-crashing-into-apples-new-headquarters-glass-walls-heres-what-they-told-911/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f77d03c89222

    And you just know what’s coming next right? #MeToo at Apple HQ on BROKEN glass walls…

    Kurzweil has nothing on me!

  21. @The Alarmist

    I agree with you!! If I’m paying big bucks for a house I want defined living spaces. Of course I would want each space on a grand scale with high ceilings and lavishly appointed.

  22. CCZ says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    Bell (AT&T) Murray Hill, NJ Laboratory (1925-2004), one of America’s most productive corporate research centers.

    I note the typical hallway with closed door labs (but will stay silent on all of the white males).

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
    , @Svigor
  23. @teotoon

    iSteve should tell wife that their home office tax deduction is proportional to the home office’s square footage.

  24. @JohnnyWalker123

    JohnnyWalker123′s special guide for getting a “management-track” promotion in the “corporate” world.

    -Get an MBA. For whateve reason, companies love promoting employees with MBAs. Apparently taking a few classes in accounting, operations, and HR makes you into a vastly superior employee and enables you to “think strategically.” It’s like a magical talisman.

    -Use lots of buzz words. Such as: dynamic, lean, synergy, agile, strategic, bandwith, streamline, disruptive, core-competency, consensus, next-generation, branding, leverage, bold, initiative, amplify. You don’t actually have to use those words correctly, as most people are unclear on what most of those terms actually mean. Just using those words makes you seem smart and forward-looking, like you’re the future exec who the company is looking for.

    -When you give presentations, use lots of impressive-looking graphics. Imagery is very powerful for conveying a point, even if the image is totally uncorrelated with anything you’re actually talking about. Don’t forget to use your buzz words (see above point). This video offers a good lesson in this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YBtspm8j8M

    -Send lots of e-mails throughout the day. It makes you look like an important guy at the company. Even after you go home, keep sending e-mails. It makes you look like you’re highly invested in the company’s success.

    -Make sure to attend as many meetings as possible. The more people see you, the more they’ll think that you’re doing something of value for the company. When you’re at these meetings, speak up a lot and use those buzz words that we discussed. If any project is brought up, casually mention how you’re playing a role on the project. Use the word “initiative” a lot. Al Gore can provide an example of how to use the word “initiative” effectively. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IejjnZYvMF8

    -If you’re ever alone with your boss, always mention how “busy” you are and compliment him a lot. If you’re in a meeting with your boss, agree with him and act like any idea he has (no matter how inane) is “groundbreaking.” Never contradict or embrass him. Bosses want sycophants.

    -Anytime the company comes up with a new program, act wildly enthusiastic. By advocating for whatever the company is doing, you appear to be “invested in the corporate mission.” Don’t dissent or point out any type of flaws. Dissenters see their careers stall.

    -Whenever you sign up for any project, make sure there aren’t too many tangible deliverables. If the deliverables are vague, it’s easy to BS and talk up how successful you were with your project.

    -Be adept at corporate politicking. Know who’s on the rise and who’s a pariah. You always want to associate yourself with the “inside clique,” while shunning anyone who’s been outcasted. How does one get outcasted? Usually by making an enemy of a powerful manager or disagreeing with company policy.

    -Make yourself visible. If you’re a workhouse who does his assignments and goes home, you won’t get promoted into management. Be the guy who goes to every company event, picnic, Christmas party, after-work bar outing, get-together at your manager’s house, and team lunch. When you’re at the office, be the guy who’s at every meeting and at every water-cooler gathering.

  25. Rosie says:
    @teotoon

    Wife tells iSteve she needs bedroom so use the closet; iSteve says, “Yes, dear.”

    If Steve keeps his paperwork half as messy as most husbands, she was very generous to concede him a whole closet. A messy desk and ugly computer aren’t very romantic, so she was quite right to insist on an out of the way spot.

  26. This house is just one big room: it would be great for parties!

    All the best parties I ever went to were in places with many doored off venues. That facilitated finding a place where you and the cutie you’d just met could privately satisfy the mutual urge to couple like minks, while under the influence of large quantities of alcohol and other mind altering substances.

    I’ve worked in open offices. They are a disaster for getting useful work done but useless drones stand out as being busy as bees. The bosses derive the further benefit that an office with a door becomes another status symbol to flaunt before the people who really do the work.

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
  27. @Rosie

    Residential construction doesn’t seem to innovate or evolve much. My wife’s theory is that demand stays so high for desirable areas that the industry doesn’t need to give a crap.

    • Replies: @Rosie
    , @Svigor
  28. Hubbub says:

    Open spaces make communal places for cooperative learning, an idea that took secondary education by storm during the seventies proved this theory was kaput. But then let’s try it elsewhere, surely it will work some place — wash, rinse, repeat.

  29. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:

    Open plan helps the Exchange of ideas and fosters collaboration and innovation

    Translation:

    Having to listen to co workers incessant babbling about their personal lives and opinions about politics current events and whatever all day long.

    20th century architecture resulted in the very ugliest buildings since 2 million years ago when some hominid pulled some bushes around as a shelter.

    The open plan is the worst aspect of 20th century architecture.

    one room is supposed to function as kitchen dining area, play room for, kids hobby, school project, workshop room, living room for parents, home office for both parents, as well as the front entrance and main traffic way from the outside and to and from the bedrooms

    It didn’t work in 1946 when the first open plan homes were built and they don’t work now They are difficult to keep tidy and impossible to decorate with anything but white walls and beige or brown floors.

    The status symbols of about the last 30 years is to expand the kitchen into the living area and fill it with huge stainless steel appliances suitable for restaurants and then fill what’s left of the ever shrinking living area with beige prole furniture.

    $5,000 refrigerator and $7,000 stove for a family of 4 that lives on microwaved, frozen, boxed and prepared food.

    We are Doomed

    • Replies: @Corn
  30. We have one of those. Everyone spends a lot of time trying to avoid eye contact: the last thing you want is to get dragged into a social situation with a coworker you don’t know and whose work is unrelated to yours, just because you happened to look up when they walked by. There are a couple hundred people on our floor which puts us well past Dunbar’s number – a situation that breeds insecurity. There are a lot of distractions but for me unstructured social interaction is the core of why open office layouts aren’t a positive. Even the little half-cubicles we used to have were better.

    There’s also the issue of no-borders email/chat usage and terrible meeting hygiene but those are different topics. The modern work environment is too ‘flat’ and needlessly hectic so a lot of people burn out. Fortunately I’m about halfway to FIRE and will be out of the workforce by the time I turn 50.

    • Replies: @Anon
  31. Anon[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Hockamaw

    Exactly, not just women although men are more and more rare in offices.

    Blah blah blah all day long.

  32. GSH says:

    Regardless of how you feel about open offices, there’s a lot of weirdness in that study. For example:

    The raw numbers shook out to an average of 5.8 hours of face-to-face time per day per person before the redesign, but only 1.7 hours of face-to-face time per person per day afterward.

    What exactly were these people doing? Spending 6 of 8 hours talking to each other, and only 2 hours working? Maybe the other extreme (2 of 8) is just as bad, but if everyone has private offices, why are they spending 75% of the their time in someone else’s office?

  33. Alfa158 says:

    I can understand why the no walls concept could have been invented by people who never worked in a real business. They might have been academics who, of course, work in closed offices, but got the idea of no walls from watching movies and TV shows. Unless the business is some sort of evil defense contractor or pharmaceutical, the work environment is usually pictured as an open area with people of all persuasions beavering away at some undefined job that involves drawing tables and pinning graphic stuff up on walls and lots of friendly banter among the, one of each human variant, staff.
    Anyone who has ever worked at a real business would tell you how absurdly distracting it would be to have an open office. Even cubicles can be bad enough depending on how they are arranged.
    I worked at one place that had the egalitarian idea that everyone including the CEO would have a cubicle. That was of course absurd because a high level executive needs to have frequent conversations that can’t be overheard. The solution was to have the CEO’s “cubicle” equipped with a door on the back wall that led directly into a private conference room where he could actually work. Other officers simply spent their time in one of the many conference rooms. I remember the CTO used his cubicle to keep his solid brass, $5,000, keep your hands off it, restaurant class cappuccino machine while he parked himself in the conference room across the aisle.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  34. @CCZ

    Well, there is one woman, but she is white and probably not a lesbian, so no diversity points from her.

    I think this is where the study was done. Can’t find it on google.

    The loudest thing in my office is the click of the keys on my Genuine IBM Model M keyboard.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
  35. Jack Ptak says:

    It is, or course, a disadvantageous arrangement for men he periodically need to stand up and adjust the equipment. You know, those humid days when the BVDs have sprung the elastic and everything is hanging low and close to the skin. Probably not a good idea in an open floor plan office as it could result in a MEEEEE TOOOOOOO charge some years later.

  36. @Alfa158

    I remember the CTO used his cubicle to keep his solid brass, $5,000, keep your hands off it, restaurant class cappuccino machine while he parked himself in the conference room across the aisle.

    How was the coffee?

  37. Open office space is also much cheaper to rent per employee. Many fewer square feet than an office. The initial build out costs are much less too.

    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  38. Anon[121] • Disclaimer says:

    Oh, protocols matter so much in the UK.

    A nation that lets in tons of Jamaicans who bump and grind out in the open.
    A nation that allows grooming gangs and looks the other way.
    A nation that lets homos turn entire streets into Sodom.
    A nation that turns a Royal wedding into jungle vision.

    Let it all go to hell… but those damned protocols.

    • Replies: @Veracitor
    , @Pericles
  39. Rosie says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    My wife’s theory is that demand stays so high for desirable areas that the industry doesn’t need to give a crap.

    Your wife is absolutely correct. A couple picks the best (whitest) school district they can afford and compromises on everything else, that is, quality of materials, construction, and aesthetics.

  40. Here in NYC, we are not into big spaces for parties in our apartments. Bedrooms are at a premium, no matter how small. Four bedroom apartments are rare as hen’s teeth. Every bedroom adds value, now matter how small.

  41. The interesting thing is that, in all my years of observing and experiencing the change from offices to open plan, no one has ever asked me and my colleagues what we want and think would be best for us.

    The change was just imposed.

    Much like the imposition of open borders in our countries.

    It’s yet another experience that makes me question why the intellectually retarded are in charge of making these decisions, and how this came to be.

    Anyway: I agree with most here, I detest open plan offices and houses. Give me rooms any day.

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
    • Replies: @TomSchmidt
  42. Bleuteaux says:
    @JohnnyWalker123

    Yup. This. 100% it’s a goddamn art form. One manager I work with has her schedule full 100% of the time. If you want or need anything from her, it’s an effort in and of itself because she feigns all of this imagined busyness. And she’s constantly claiming she can’t get to your meeting until it’s half over, etc.

    In general, the best way to convey false busyness is to be constantly asking and demanding more useless information from other people. It’s an excuse for not getting something done yourself and for looking like you are the one on top of things.

    • Agree: JohnnyWalker123
    • Replies: @JohnnyWalker123
  43. @Jim Don Bob

    Bingo. People waste millions of dollars of employee time to save nickels on real estate.

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
  44. @Stebbing Heuer

    Ask the imposers if there is data backing their impositions. Feelz is all they have.

    • Agree: Mr. Rational
    • Replies: @Anon
  45. Anonymous[104] • Disclaimer says:
    @3g4me

    “Another one of the left’s ideas that will never die. My early ’60s-built elementary school had two sets of adjoining classrooms separated by a wall that could be folded back to create one large room. It wasn’t done often because of the chaos that ensued. ”

    Right-o.
    My children’s elementary school (New Lane Elementary, in District 11, Suffolk County NY, for those that may be interested) was built entirely on that plan, with open areas, comprising 4-5 different classes, all in one big open space.
    I had heard about this educational brainstorm before visiting the school, and because of my prior experience as a …well, as a kid, was skeptical that the idea would work. Sure enough, when I visited, I saw a huge open space, where the teachers had made valiant efforts (high dividers, bookshelves, etc.) to physically divide their classes, as much as they could, from the chattering hordes around them. My son and daughter agreed that it didn’t work.

    I don’t think that the taxpayers, who actually pay for these boondoggles, appreciate that school construction and programs, like any other government expenditures, are largely just political patronage.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  46. Veracitor says:

    Industrial psychologists have performed very powerful (RCT) studies multiple times over decades to establish beyond doubt that knowledge workers are much more productive in workplaces affording more privacy and less noise.

    Today’s executives favor open plan-offices because they value their own status markers more than the productivity of their workers. Executives, of course, give themselves offices– but not their humble workers nor even middle managers now. Modern office design descends directly from Bentham’s Panopticon prison design and is dedicated to helping executives feel more scornful of their staffs.

    Urging executives to adopt open plans– while flattering them and feeding them feeding propaganda talking points about “synergy” and “creativity”– are the interior designers and architects. They don’t give a damn about the productivity of their clients’ workers because the designer leaves the moment the cheque clears, which happens just after the client experiences the rush of lording it over a bullpen full of morose employees. Remember– scorn is the positive emotion you experience when you humiliate others.

    No designers break ranks to talk up worker productivity because that would never earn them fawning profiles in their own industry’s magazines like Contract Design (link).

    • Replies: @Pericles
  47. CSN – Our House – Lyrics:

    “Such a cozy room
    The windows are illuminated by the evening
    Sunshine through them, fiery gems”

  48. I…moved my computer to a folding coffee table in the walk-in closet of my bedroom. It’s great! I’m totally isolated, which is what I need to concentrate.

  49. Veracitor says:
    @Anon

    The American President need not and should not bow to the Queen of England. That was settled over two centuries ago by the War of Independence and the Treaty of Paris.* A handshake is fine. However, the President probably should have been more careful about walking ahead of the Queen while reviewing the honor guard. She was entitled to precedence there (those being her troops in her kingdom) and would have permitted him to walk beside her as a mark of esteem.

    *Ronald Reagan was embarassed in 1981 by an incompetent “White House Chief of Protocol” named Lenore Annenberg who dropped a curtsy to Prince Charles while greeting him officially. It was her job to know that was improper. American officials must not and American citizens need not humble themselves to British aristocrats.

  50. Western says:

    There was an executive at my company who said he loved walking the floor and to see all “energy” and supposed collaboration, but, of course, he had his own nice big private office on an upper floor.

    The noise and distractions in your average office are ridiculous at this point. I have to wear headphones to block it out.

    It’s nice being at work when nobody is there because you can actually concentrate without hearing all the blabbing around or people walking by your desk.

  51. @Jim Don Bob

    Look again, there are quite a few women. I don’t think they were all lesbians; that one in the front is a smouldering beauty.

  52. Tyrion 2 says: • Website
    @Stan d Mute

    It is listed as for sale for $99,000 but was valued at $18,000 for tax purposes, how does that work?

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
    , @res
  53. Tyrion 2 says: • Website
    @Anonymous

    My children’s elementary school (New Lane Elementary, in District 11, Suffolk County NY, for those that may be interested) was built entirely on that plan, with open areas, comprising 4-5 different classes, all in one big open space

    What an obviously stupid idea.

  54. Pericles says:
    @Anon

    Not to mention, of course, before that repeatedly going out of their way to insult their guest.

    Part of protocol, old thing? Pip-pip!

  55. Pericles says:
    @Veracitor

    And imagine then working at Google where, whether you’re de-stressing in the Ball Pit of Playful Creativeness or living it up in the Hangar of Joyful Cooperation or elsewhere, you all day long get streams of hate mail and threats from obviously disturbed people. Who also happen to be your bosses and their relatives and pampered pets.

  56. M_Young says:

    Funny thing is, ‘open office’ plans are hardly an innovation. My father worked for years at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard’s planning department in an ‘open office’ — meaning a bunch of guys at desks in a big room. Only the department head and deputy had offices (Dad eventually made it to deputy).

    You can see similar set ups in reruns of My Three Sons — bunch of engineers doing their thing at their desks in a big toom

  57. @Tyrion 2

    The short answer is, “it’s complicated.” Basically, assessed value is around half of theoretical market value. But market value is highly debatable until a property is sold. One may contest assessments via local political committees and appeals are frequent. Taxable values are lower than assessed values and capped to prohibit more than 5% annual increase or inflation rate whichever is lower. For this property, as with nearly all others, the assessment predicts a lower sale price than the seller’s asking price. If it sells at $100,000, the assessment should reset to around $50,000, but the buyer can appeal that and argue for a lower sum. Tax boards, being local, generally go along with owners on appeals as they don’t want irate enemies living next door to them. Detroit’s market is slowly improving from the bottom hit in the early 2010’s due to reduced inventory (fewer foreclosures and tens of thousands of houses have been razed). A common way to game the system is buying a house needing renovation then doing the renovations without building permits so the government has no proof of improvement and can’t increase assessments. Again, it’s complicated.

    • Agree: Tyrion 2
    • Replies: @res
  58. I worked for a Japanese company early in my career and the office consisted of one big room with clusters of desks pushed together in groups. There were no partitions of any kind. You had someone three feet to your left, someone three feet to your right, and someone three feet away facing you. This was a design engineering office. The phones were ringing constantly, people were getting paged… If you needed to design something, you plopped down at one of a group of communal CAD stations. Yet somehow, I don’t know how, work got done and nobody went insane. This was pre-internet. I’d never be able to handle that today.

    My mom taught kindergarten at an “open-plan” school back in the 70s. Instead of classrooms, all three kindergarten classes were in one room, separated by a row of rolling cabinets. They realized it was a mistake almost immediately.

  59. Iberiano says:
    @3g4me

    I’ve found most things in the teaching profession, are based upon the generational and cultural whims of women. Things women think are “a good idea”, or “cute” or based upon some alleged “study” (which usually means “survey”) done by some other woman at some other unknown place, but oft quoted. They are memes that come and go, essentially. Sometimes for longer periods of time (“Diversity is our strength), sometimes shorter (“It’s ok to cry”).

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  60. res says:
    @Tyrion 2

    Someone probably filed an appeal to reassess the house. I’m not sure how different England is with property tax, so this might help: https://www.houselogic.com/finances-taxes/taxes/property-tax-appeal/

    It also sold for $3,070 in 2012. I wonder if any work was done on it in the interim. It does not sound like it.

    What I don’t understand is how the tax went from $190 in 2005 to $1,900 in 2013 at the same time as the tax assessment fell $98,126 to $49,960.

    I looked at the two comparable houses and there is something very strange going on with the price and tax history there. It looks like someone has decided the neighborhood is ripe for gentrification and is trying to charge accordingly.

  61. Corn says:
    @Anon

    “$5,000 refrigerator and $7,000 stove for a family of 4 that lives on microwaved, frozen, boxed and prepared food.”

    I spent almost ten years working for a company that sells kitchen cabinets and appliances. You’re not far off the mark.

    It’s also interesting to look at house construction and TFR over the last few decades. As our families get smaller, our houses get bigger. During the post war baby boom a Catholic family would have 5-6 children in a 12-1400 sq ft home. They’d hang out together in the living room, siblings of the same sex would share bedrooms etc. Nowadays 3 or 4 people live in a 2800+ sq ft house and they all have their own quarter practically.

    The desire to live in a “good” neighborhood certainly fuels high house prices, but alot of it is just plain materialism and greed.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  62. @J1234

    Any teenage boy can testify to the need for isolated spaces.
    Hey,Steve,aside from the latest idiocy from the WaPo,what’s on that computer of yours…hmmm?

  63. Svigor says:
    @Mr. Anon

    It’s very disappointing. (((Big Media’s))) Trump Derangement Syndrome seems to be entirely calculated – Trump has never said anything more point-and-sputter-worthy, and they’re wisely sweeping it under the rug.

  64. Svigor says:
    @Lot

    Taki: “yeah the island in the kitchen in my (really very chic) motor home.”

  65. Svigor says:
    @CCZ

    Note the need even back then, to locate the token woman right up front near the center of interest. And fashy arms-crossed manspreader behind her.

    • Replies: @Lurker
  66. Svigor says:
    @The Anti-Gnostic

    Apparently construction is a few times more profitable than it used to be, mostly because Mexicans and cost-saving innovations (particle board everywhere, other shittiness).

  67. @Bleuteaux

    In general, the best way to convey false busyness is to be constantly asking and demanding more useless information from other people. It’s an excuse for not getting something done yourself and for looking like you are the one on top of things.

    In my office, we have people who literally spend all day either “gathering” information, sitting in meetings, or send e-mails. They feign busyness all work day – then go home and send more e-mails or requests for information. When you look at what these people produce, you just can’t see anything they add to the organization. They might attach their names to various projects, but they’re little more than dead weight to any team.

    Being on top of what’s happening gives you the reputation as being an important person at the office. If you’re articulate and sycophantic to senior management/execs, you can usually expect a promotion at some point.

    Sometimes it’s better to not promote people who produce too much. If you promote your best performers, you lose their contribution to your office team. If you promote glib non-producing talkers, your team doesn’t really lose anything.

    Promotions seem to be less about “managerial ability” and more about “fit.” “Fit” basically meaning articulately advocating for whatever it is that very senior-level executives choose to do. In some respects, being a manager is like being a PR spokesman or maybe a politician.

    This is why there’s no correlation (actually a negative correlation) between value-producing and your chance of being promoted. If you want the promotion, learn to speak well, sharpen your PR skills, and constantly self-promote. Don’t be the silent workhorse type, as those guys seldomly move into management.

    • Replies: @Bleuteaux
    , @Lurker
  68. Anon[298] • Disclaimer says:
    @TomSchmidt

    An open-plan section and a closed-plan section seem to be a pretty good mix in a private house. For instance, the house I live in and others around here have an “open” first floor and a “closed” second floor; the house my father grew up in (which his mother designed) had a “closed” section of the hall which opened out when it reached the kitchen and living room.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  69. @Anon

    Better yet, you could have the North Wing be open plan for parties, galas, fundraisers, and private rock concerts, while the South Wing was closed plan for family quarters. But where to put the servants?

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  70. Bleuteaux says:
    @JohnnyWalker123

    It sounds like we must work at the same company. If you’re anything like me, your corporate experience has pretty fundamentally changed your outlook on just about everything.

    Sometimes it’s better to not promote people who produce too much. If you promote your best performers, you lose their contribution to your office team. If you promote glib non-producing talkers, your team doesn’t really lose anything.

    I switched divisions for this exact reason. Anyone above a first-level manager was clueless about the business and subject matter experts could get stuck in the same role, for literally decades, if their knowledge and expertise grew too much on their work. The greater your role in building some fundamental process used by the business, the worse.

    The other thing I found about almost anyone above a first-level manager is that their full time role was simply to advance themselves and their career. Again, the complexity of the work of individual contributors exacerbates this. If you don’t know what’s going on, you need to accelerate self-promotion into overdrive.

  71. anonymous[279] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    Open office is another way to reduce hard cost and relocation churn. The soft costs like lower productivity don’t show up directly on a P&L, and the architect’s check already cleared. Current open offices have cheap synthetic flooring that is an invitation to dust bunnies.

  72. @Steve Sailer

    But where to put the servants?

    Downstairs where they belong! Haven’t you seen Downton Abbey?

  73. @Iberiano

    One idea that has lasted a long time, even after having been repudiated by the guy who first said it, is the notion that there are multiple ways of learning.

  74. @Corn

    Several of the latest houses they’ve built here in the Peoples’ Republic have been 5000+ sf. Developers buy brick colonials for 6-700k and knock them down.

  75. res says:
    @Stan d Mute

    Nice explanation. Since it sounds like you are local, do you know what explains this:

    What I don’t understand is how the tax went from $190 in 2005 to $1,900 in 2013 at the same time as the tax assessment fell (from) $98,126 to $49,960.

    Did something major change with the tax regime there?

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
    , @Stan d Mute
  76. @res

    I haven’t looked at the record, but a sale would reset the tax to market rate (remember it’s capped at <5%/yr increase until sold). This can happen at the same time the market prices and assessment are declining.

  77. @res

    Also, if it sold from owner occupied to an investor owner, it would lose its homestead exemption of $25,000. That and the reset to market on taxable value would do the job.

    Plus, it’s Detroit. Inexplicable shit happens all the time in Detroit. Nobody even tries to explain or understand, it’s just the way things are.

    • Replies: @res
  78. res says:
    @Stan d Mute

    Thanks. This might be a possibility (no sales between 2005 and 2010, and the 2012 sale did not reset to anywhere near sale price):

    if it sold from owner occupied to an investor owner, it would lose its homestead exemption of $25,000.

    I suspect the real explanation is:

    Plus, it’s Detroit. Inexplicable shit happens all the time in Detroit. Nobody even tries to explain or understand, it’s just the way things are.

    The gaps in the record (missing years, tax amounts, etc.) also make more sense in light of that. Detroit really does sound like a third world country at this point.

    Price History
    DATE EVENT PRICE $/SQFT SOURCE
    07/11/18 Listed for sale $99,000+3,125% $28 Real Estate On…
    05/18/12 Sold $3,070 $0 Public Record

    Tax History
    YEAR PROPERTY TAXES CHANGE TAX ASSESSMENT CHANGE
    2017 $1,318 – $18,000 -62.1%
    2016 $1,318 – $47,500 –
    2015 $1,318 -30.6% $47,500 -4.9%
    2013 $1,900 +44.1% $49,960 -31.8%
    2010 $1,318 – $73,248 -18.0%
    2009 – – $89,327 -11.5%
    2008 – – $100,935 -2.5%
    2007 – – $103,523 +5.5%
    2005 $190 – $98,126 +3.0%
    2004 – – $95,268 –

  79. Lurker says:
    @Svigor

    There seem to be a couple other women further away. Maybe she was more photogenic?

    Also Svi you missed the Chinese spy across the hallway from her. (So did the FBI!)

  80. Lurker says:
    @JohnnyWalker123

    If you promote glib non-producing talkers, your team doesn’t really lose anything.

    But then the upper rungs of management become clogged up with these people. And where else will the even higher rungs be recruited from?

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