While cubicles emerged as the “action office,” they created an environment antithesis to work. Says Dilbert creator Scott Adams, ‘cubicles are like prisons.’ Cubicles are anti-work; they impede collaboration.
If companies want to create more office conversation, they have to make the conditions for more office collisions. Thus, the open space design became the standard model for companies looking to encourage idea-sharing.
Open spaces increase the chances of overhearing something important, clarifying a miscommunication, and leading to the next great business opportunity. Multiple bump-in discussions have replaced those at the water cooler, keeping potential email threads from getting out of hand.
Human interaction is still vital to the workplace. One gets more from speaking with a co-worker for a few minutes than they do via structured meetings and email recaps containing a list of myriad “next steps.”
Serendipity is the name of the game.
In theory, overcommunication should save employees from having to attend extra meetings and send superfluous emails. But open spaces do come with invasiveness that can “can cause workers to do a turtle.” No wonder coders and copy-writers throw on noise-canceling headphones to cancel out the extra noise.
Open offices have come to resemble a chaotic classroom. External conversations crimp the thinking voice inside a person’s head. Perhaps that’s why working from home is still the most productive space of them all
Working from home allows workers to build a space they can call their own. While the internet and email are always on, the door can be closed at any time for silence so that one can do deep work.
The cubicle and the open office beg for distractions. Isn’t the point of work to get stuff done and ship?
We are told to ship it; release it before it’s finished, get it out of our hands so we can get the feedback we need to iterate and perfect our product. It’s a grueling process that fires up the anxiety. Is this thing going to work or go out to the void?
Procrastination and mourning are tied tightly together: for to procrastinate is to mourn the precariousness of your creation even before you bring it into the world.
We are stuck between thinking and action, for which we have no choice but to finish what we started:
The procrastinator is both contemplator and man of action, which is the worst thing to be, and which is tearing him apart.
Procrastination is the purest form of idleness. And it is the brain’s neurons that dictate what we decide to do. “Who you are depends on what your neurons are up to, moment by moment,” says David Eagleman in his book The Brain: The Story of You.
So if neurons predict our fate but the mind is plastic, we should be setting up the entire system to prepare for better decision-making. For starters, we can make a list of the things we can control. But there will never be any guarantees that it’ll work. That’s where the habits and enthusiasm come in to help us overcome the fear.