Harvard study: Open-plan offices decrease collaboration

A new study from Harvard reveals that open-plan offices decrease rather than increase face-to-face collaboration.

From my perspective as a developer, having to work in a climate of constant interruption is a total productivity killer. IBM did numerous studies of this decades ago, yet somehow the open plan office model managed to become somewhat of a utopian managerial ideal. It really is not.

From the article by Geoffrey James:
“A new study from Harvard shows that when employees move from a traditional office to an open plan office, it doesn’t cause them to interact more socially or more frequently.

Instead, the opposite happens. They start using email and messaging with much greater frequency than before. In other words, even if collaboration were a great idea (it’s a questionable notion), open plan offices are the worst possible way to make it happen.

Previous studies of open plan offices have shown that they make people less productive, but most of those studies gave lip service to the notion that open-plan offices would increase collaboration, thereby offsetting the damage.

The Harvard study, by contrast, undercuts the entire premise that justifies the fad. And that leaves companies with only one justification for moving to an open plan office: less floor space, and therefore a lower rent.

But even that justification is idiotic because the financial cost of the loss in productivity will be much greater than the money saved in rent. Here’s an article where I do the math for you. Even in high-rent districts, the savings have a negative ROI.

More important, though–if employees are going to be using email and messaging to communicate with co-workers, they might as well be working from home, which costs the company nothing.”

More at: It’s Official: Open-Plan Offices Are Now the Dumbest Management Fad of All Time | Inc.com

Ground-breaking discovery finds new link between autoimmune diseases and a gut bacterium

Ground-breaking discovery finds new link between autoimmune diseases and a gut bacterium

Could microbes in our guts be sending out the wrong message? Queen’s University Belfast researchers have, for the first time, found a specific microbe in the gut that pumps out protein molecules that mimic a human protein, causing the human defence system to turn on its own cells by mistake. The culprit in this case is called Bacteroides fragilis, a bacterium that normally lives in the human gut. The Queen’s team has shown that this bacterium produces a human-like protein that could trigger autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. This human protein is called ‘ubiquitin’ and is needed for all the normal cell processes in our bodies.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-10-ground-breaking-discovery-link-autoimmune-diseases.html

SpaceX’s launch over L.A. just after sunset produced fireworks in the sky – and a sharp rise in UFO reports. (Photo…

SpaceX’s launch over L.A. just after sunset produced fireworks in the sky – and a sharp rise in UFO reports. (Photo tweeted by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti) https://www.geekwire.com/2018/sonic-boom-ufo-show-spacex-launches-satellite-lands-rocket-booster-california/

https://www.geekwire.com/2018/sonic-boom-ufo-show-spacex-launches-satellite-lands-rocket-booster-california/

Unexpected magnetic fireworks. “During 40 microseconds last April, Shojiro Takeyama and his team at the University…

Unexpected magnetic fireworks. “During 40 microseconds last April, Shojiro Takeyama and his team at the University of Tokyo dumped 3.2 megajoules of energy into a newly built scientific instrument and blew part of it to smithereens. The smithereens part was expected; the force of the explosion, not quite. The instrument was designed to generate super-strong magnetic fields for examining semiconductors and other materials at the nanometer scale. Takeyama was expecting about 700 Tesla. He got 1200 T instead—a world record for indoor fields and about 400 times as strong as a typical medical MRI.

Bigger magnetic fields have been made before, but they aren’t practical or reliably reproducible, because they rely on rather dangerous amounts of TNT. It is not an indoor activity.

These fields are generated by starting with a strong, unchanging magnetic field and then rapidly—on the order of microseconds—squeezing it. Instead of causing that squeeze with a TNT-fueled implosion, Takeyama used an electrically-induced one.
[…]
In such a strong magnetic field, electron motion is confined to a space less than a nanometer across, allowing for new more precise measurements. “In general, the higher the field, the resolution of measurement becomes better and better,” says Takeyama.

The measurements will only get easier. Takeyama is working on making the measurement space a bit bigger—10 mm—to accommodate other instruments. Using the system’s fully-charged, 5-MJ, capacitor bank, that should lead to another record: 1500 T.”