Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Un-Open Office Plan

Whenever there is a discussion about the Open Office Plan -- and there have been many -- some clown will always mention Jay Chiat as a pioneer of the idea.

I use the word clown purposefully because it's simply not true.

In the mid-90's, one may recall, Jay gave us the Virtual Office. Not the same as the Open Office with it's long sweatshop tables, the shoulder-to-shoulder employees banging away at their computers and the non-stop thumping of some Belgian bullshit house music.

In the Virtual Office, as the theory went,  employees were free to take their laptops and cellphones and work anywhere in the building, a war room, the cafeteria or even a refashioned Tilt-A-Whirl caboose. Management was also cool with employees leaving the building and doing their business off campus, at a coffee shop, a library or even a strip club (so I've heard).

In fact, they encouraged people to leave the office.

Mostly because due to a planning error, the famed Binocular building wasn't big enough for all the employees.

Prior to the Virtual Office, I worked for Jay Chiat at the Warehouse on Main Street. This too was not an Open Office. My partner and I, like all the creative teams, had a large, airy, walled off cube.

It was easily 300+ square feet of space.
Big enough for two then, adequate for twelve today.

In 1997, Chiat/Day moved into the Playa Vista office. Lovingly shot by my buddy, Bill Hornstein in this piece for the Clios.

Again, not an Open Office by any stretch.

In fact, recognizing what office planners today fail to recognize, each creative team was given its own semi-private, territorially-intact cube in what is referred to as the Cliff Dwellings.

That's my old office right there behind the old Datsun. As you can see it's occupied by someone (guy on phone) thinner, younger and more handsome, but I spent a lot of good hours right there.

I didn't have to wear noise canceling headphones. I didn't have to whisper my thoughts so other creatives might "lift" them. And I didn't have to go to the parking lot to speak with my doctor about my irritable bowel syndrome. Though my former partner will be happy to verify that phenomena.

I hear a lot of people grumbling about leaving advertising because it's not creative anymore. Or it's not fun anymore.

I'd leave cause it's not private anymore.

1 comment:

nieberding said...

Please, Blaney has nothing on you. That was a good office - but I remember Hornstein wearing headphones quite a bit.