In the workplace, this is happening due largely to open workspaces. Between all of the conversation, the mechanical keyboards with the incessant clicking and clacking, the sounds of people clinking bowls and plates as they eat, and other constant interruptions, it’s really difficult for most to produce their best work.
It used to be that many people had offices, or at least high-wall cubes, so we had some sound blocking, and at least the illusion of privacy.
But now, companies have decided to continue their move toward open spaces. It’s not hard to find research that talks about the negative effect on productivity and morale. A simple Google search yields plenty.
Yet, with all of the research available, companies continue to push open spaces and even promote them on their hiring pages.
Presumably, it’s because it’s much cheaper for companies to stack up a bunch of desks in a room and call it a benefit. Cubes and offices cost much more.
But what is the real cost? If your productivity or morale is a fraction of what it could be, are you really saving money?
Meanwhile, the side effect is further isolation of people from each other. The proliferation of headphones is making it harder for people to connect. Add to that the constant growth of texting, and now instant messaging (especially the person at the next desk because neither of you wants to remove your headphones to talk), and we’re losing the ability (and often the courage) to speak directly to each other.
Tone, gestures, warmth, expressions, and other visual cues are disappearing from our human interaction. Everything is becoming colder and more robotic.
We continue down the road to digitizing the human experience. Hopefully, we realize it in time to debate it, as a society, before it’s too late.