Ever been in a meeting which has been totally pointless? Where no one listens but everyone interrupts? Did anyone take time out to reflect?
Have you ever been in your office desperately trying to map out a plan only for your thoughts to be constantly interrupted by the incessant clatter of printers, keyboards and chatter of people?
Open plan was hailed as the new collaboration tool. People sitting together, all equal, all sharing ideas and information. Except it does not work like that.
Business men and women are paid to think, be creative and innovative. But in a world of incessant meetings and constant emails that demand attention it is hard to take time out and just let your brain do its thing and just think.
It has long been known that different people have different styles of working, Sitting quietly and thinking is a unique and important part of working life. Sadly nowadays 'being busy' is a marker of status and staring into the distance is not likely to be seen as a mark of cognitive excellence.
The gift of thought is remarkable and it is when we do our most important work. We should value it , nurture it and do everything we can to foster it.
In the delusion that seating employees in open spaces will magically facilitate collaboration, we now occupy offices where it is impossible to think. One chief operating officer confided to me that the fad was about cost-cutting. And in 2013 researchers studying 43,000 workers concluded the distraction of open plan outweighed unproved benefits of easy interaction. In a board meeting last month, I heard eminent retirees advocate open plan offices, but their own rise had taken place in offices with walls and doors. How successful would they have been working closely alongside their colleagues?