Social PLM and anti-social efficiency

Social PLM and anti-social efficiency

Social is one of the topics I’m discussing frequently on my blog. Today, I would like to take a different angle on social and collaboration. I was reading Real Time Rick blog – Commenting PLM, Workplace Efficiency and my iPod. Rick was talking about PLM, collaboration and what is required sometime to get the job done. Here is an interesting passage from Rick’s post:

While I would never be called an ‘introvert’, I do find that my best work is done with my office door closed and my iPod just loud enough to block any background noise.  I find my mind wanders if it’s too quiet; I need to have something to listen to.  I wind up joining conversations that are going on outside my door.  Next thing you know, I’ve lost an hour or three.

It made me think about some modern “social trends”. Walking into many offices lately, I figured out one interesting trend – massive migration of people into “open” (aka more social and collaborative) workspace. According to companies, environment in such type of offices is provoking people to “collaborate” and working more efficiently. I’ve heard exactly this opinion when visited new offices of Dassault Systems in Waltham, MA.

I decide to dig a bit inside. Navigate your browser to the following article – Open Office Space: The Good, Bad and Ugly. Have a read. I found this article quite interesting discussing in details all pros and cons of open office. The following two opinions convincing pro and against open office caught my special attention:

Why open space is bad: A study by Australian scientists published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Health Management concludes that open space offices are bad for employee health. The research found that in 90% of cases studied, “the outcome of working in an open-plan office was seen as negative, with open-plan offices causing high levels of stress, conflict, high blood pressure, and a high staff turnover.” Germs are also more easily transmitted, leading to more employee sickness and a loss of production. Another negative risk to the company’s bottom line is the potential for theft of company secrets. In an open office space, the odds of someone seeing or hearing confidential or business-sensitive information increases considerably. And a leakage of proprietary information can not only destroy profits but can destroy entire companies too.

Why open space is good: It’s not hard to see how an open office design can facilitate more teamwork and better communication. In support of this premise, a 1996 research study published in the Harvard Business Review revealed that companies that had modified their business processes by, among other things, migrating from private spaces to open environments realized performance increases averaging 440 percent.

It made me think about modern trends of social software. Social software can solve some problems of open space location and at the same time still to support advantages of working in “online” open space.

Looking for some numbers to support ideas of how social software improves productivity in manufacturing companies, I found results of research published by Jim Brown in his Social Innovation Crystal Ball Prediction for 2012. Take a look on the picture below. Numbers are self-explaining.

What is my conclusion? Here is my “anti-social” efficiency conflict. I like social environment and social software. However, when I need to get my job done, I need to switch off my phone, disconnect twitter, close my email and focus on what I’m doing. So, thinking about various social innovations, I remember about how to have the ability to close my office door… Just my thoughts.

Best, Oleg


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