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January 26, 2023

Actually, Collaborative Workspaces are Not Innovative Nor New at All

Yesterday, we talked about a recent PwC report on the future of work, which may or may not include flexible work hours and lots of collaborative workspaces.

We hear about collaborative workspaces all the time; they are supposed to change the way we work in the future and allow for, well, collaboration but really all they achieve is the need for good earbuds and the inability to browse /r/wtf during work hours.

Here's a recent humblebrag by PwC on how they are increasing "workspace efficiency" and making the best use of their space:

Our biggest opportunity to increase our workspace efficiency is to literally take up less space per person. For a growing firm, this comes down to doing more with what space we already have. Over the past year, despite adding employees, we have kept the amount of our office space constant and reduced the square feet per employee. This decoupling is critical as we seek to both limit our environmental impact and grow our business.

Our hoteling system allows access to office space when it’s needed and frees up that space when it’s not. Accessible from smart phones, PwC laptops, and office kiosks, staff can quickly and easily shift between working at the office, at a client site, or remotely. We have also deployed a new workspace design in several offices that not only improves collaboration, but also makes better use of the space, all while providing employees with a productive environment.

HOW INNOVATIVE to cram as many people as possible into the same small space! Or is it?

Here is a mention of Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery's first office in Philadelphia, from the 1923 publication A Record of twenty-five years:

So, those innovative old guys had a single desk for four partners and a single desk for everyone who worked there. To share. Granted, "engagements were not numerous" but still.

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