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Innovation

To spark office communication, drawing lines between desks

To combat a lack of communication in an open-plan office, one artist illustrated paths to colleagues -- literally, on the floor, in pink tape. Will it work?
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

I love where I work, but I hate where I work. My office is a cubicle-heavy, walled off grid that's great for sales representatives who need privacy but terrible for creatives who need collaboration.

I used to joke that I could go a week without talking to anyone, if I tried. It wasn't far off from the truth.

My office is hardly alone in suffering from dated thinking. The 21st century is upon us, and with it comes a new way of working. But not all of our physical offices have caught on to the trend.

And that's not to say there aren't drawbacks to open-plan offices, too. Let's agree to meet in the middle, shall we?

In fact, let's meet in the middle -- literally. During a three-month residency, artist Anne-Laure Maison noted a distinct lack of communication between employees at the office of home furnishings firm Le Groupe Matelsom.

To illustrate this phenomenon in a more literal fashion, she used pink tape to trace the connections between desks in the office, visualizing the untapped potential that could result from more social exchange with a broader group of colleagues.

At first glance it looks a little like a microchip -- and that's the point: to foster creative energy. It was a necessary step, the company says, because even with an open floor plan, employees weren't talking.

"Even two meters away," founder Emery Jacquillat writes in a blog post, "people do not talk. And when they have something to say, they send each other e-mail!"

Will workers begin to identify paths not yet traveled, or wear down comfortable ones? I'd say it goes far beyond office layout to a corporate culture issue. But it starts with a path.

[via Notcot; FastCo Design]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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