Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Chain of Command in an Open-Plan Environment

I've moaned about the open-plan office environment before. But today I want to moan about something completely different, within the context of the open-plan office.

The Chain of Command (or COC, as I call it) is the means by which the Civil Service communicates. All information is transmitted downwards from the head cheeses, through the various strata of the hierarchy, until it reaches the people who are actually affected by the information. Information is very rarely transmitted upwards. If it is, it doesn't get very far. The COC is incredibly formal and rigid.

The open-plan office messes up the COC a bit. In the Department, we minions of the open-plan areas are all allocated the same amount of space, be we management or clerical staff. We are all equal. There is no hierarchy determining who gets to sit near the windows. There is fuck all privacy.

So when my boss comes to me with a work plan and discusses it with me, with various information to be transmitted downwards to the clerical staff, all I have to do afterwards is wander over to their desks and say, "You heard all that?", and they invariably have. So my job is more or less done for me.

Hey, maybe it's not so bad after all!

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