How to fix your open office, and more tech news from June

The best stuff we’ve read, watched or listened to over the past month

Jun 9, 2017, 10:55 AM

Each month we’re sharing the latest topics on talent, location selection, office design and construction, and other real estate-ish topics that can help you make smart decisions for your business, your space and your people. Without further ado, your June edition.

Bringing privacy to open plan offices

Open offices save on costs but skimp on privacy—and employee comfort as a result. They're meant to increase engagement, but engagement "only flourishes when you have the choice to avoid it." After riding the wave of open offices (and their ensuing crash), companies are realizing that balance is best.

A well-designed office offers room to escape via an activity-based layout. And not only can employees work how and where they want, but they should feel empowered by management to actually go there.

Why you can’t concentrate at work (sub)

Another big productivity killer from open office design is visual noise. Even if you can find a quiet place to sit, activity visible in your periphery still cuts into concentration. So while we're still seeing open office layouts, more companies are minimizing sight lines with plants, half walls, fabric panels and curved layouts.

How America’s two tech hubs are converging

Whereas many emerging tech hubs dream of the pomp and permanence of Silicon Valley, Seattle is careful to avoid it. Being so close to the Bay Area, it’s a natural target for companies and execs who want quality of life at lower cost. Nevertheless, Seattle companies and city officials are making a conscious decision to maintain a culture that doesn’t only talk about tech. Whether they can withstand tech’s siren song remains to be seen.

The gig economy workforce will double in four years

Intuit estimates there will be 9.2 million workers in the gig economy by 2020—up from 3.8 million last year. To put that in perspective, there are now more gig workers than IT and information sector employees combined. This rise has been fueled largely by startup contractors that work for on-demand delivery and service apps, but the trend is transcending industries. As Generation Z seeps into the workforce and more employees launch “portfolio careers,” companies should ask themselves how the workplace can give flexible workers what they want.

As U.S. closes its doors, Canada has chance to attract top tech talent

While many U.S. tech companies are anxious about the Administration’s potential policy on skilled-worker visas, foreign tech communities have reaped the benefits. Though we’ve yet to see formal changes, the Administration’s attitude sends a clear signal—one that’s sending talented foreign tech workers to nearby Canada. Mexico, too, is marketing its open border to attract talent. As a result, more U.S. tech companies are looking at cross-border expansion or contractors situated outside the U.S.

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Author: Lillian Veley