Glass offices are sleek, modern and are an efficient way of work life in the 68 percent of U.S. offices with an "open plan" design, but as the Wall Street Journal points out today--they are panopticons for intra-office dramas. (Full disclosure: The Atlantic's D.C. offices aren't of the thin-glass-wall variety (our conference room has shades). The Journal points out there are some benefits: "better communication and collaboration, lower real-estate and energy costs, more natural light and expansive outdoor views for all." But there's also the "fish bowl" experience or the "bird factor--people slamming into walls." But worst of all is the inability for anyone to talk about bad news without broadcasting it through the entire office:
Potentially embarrassing meetings must often be moved elsewhere. If a manager is meeting with an employee to ask, "'Why do sales suck?' or 'Why did we lose this client?'" a glass office leaves "no place to hide," says Mr. Lewis of OperationsInc. Lowering blinds or turning on electronic screens that make glass opaque doesn't help: Onlookers still rush to email co-workers that somebody "is getting in trouble," Mr. Lewis says. "They might as well be on stage."
For the full story, head on over to the Wall Street Journal.