John Tierney wrote an interesting article in the New York Times on what he calls “Cubical Culture.” Tierney says, “Scientists are measuring the unhappiness and lower productivity of distracted workers. After surveying 65,000 people over the past decade in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, report that more than half of office workers are dissatisfied with the level of ‘speech privacy,’ making it the leading complaint in offices everywhere.”
Anne-Laure Fayard, a professor of management at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University stated “people have shorter and more superficial conversations in open offices because they’re self-conscious about being overheard.”
The problem rising from the lack of privacy and the overall discomfort felt in an open concept environment is also prevalent at trade fairs where exhibitors are surrounded by noisy neighbors.
What can organizers do to make the experience better for these people? Piping in sound is one easy solution but why stop there. Would sound proof hard walls help? What about more on-the-floor private meeting spaces? Can the configuration of stands be different so one exhibitor is not immediately beside another?
There has to be lots of answers and I’d be interested in knowing what our followers have seen and what the results have been.