The Unbearable Coolness of the New Office

The newest trends in offices are exciting — and some people can’t stand them.

A collection of the coolest and/or most irritating new trends in offices:

  • Touchscreen computers

What could anyone find to complain about in something as totally snazzy as a touchscreen computer?      It’s sort of like manual transmission, in that it’s hard to get used to at  first but then you can hardly stand to be without it. And just as manual  drivers keep putting their foot onto the nonexistent clutch when they  drive an automatic, touchscreen users reach out to touch the ordinary  screens of ordinary computers. It’s just hard to switch back and  forth.

  • Hot desks

There’s a lot to be said for  hot desking, where workers grab any desk or computer that’s handy, share their space with colleagues as though they were bunks on a submarine, or  move around according to the current project instead of having a boring  ol’ desk or office. Log in and all your stuff is there, in the cloud,  where you left it — except that embarrassing picture your colleague  accidentally saved to the desktop and the essential document which you  thought was in your Google Drive but must actually be at one of the seven  different desks you’ve used since you last accessed it.

  • The virtual water cooler

Millennial employees would rather have unlimited access to social media than a higher salary. Given a  choice between more pay without Facebook and lower pay with it, half of  younger workers want their Facebook. Right now, 43% of U.S. companies  forbid social media on company time — with much higher rates in heavy  industry — but more than half of older workers use social media every day  at work anyway, and nearly all the younger ones do. Companies worry about  over-sharing and loss of productivity.

There are pros and cons to all changes — it’s just a matter of going in with your eyes open.