Late last year, Apple finally opened up their newest Apple campus, Apple Park. The smartphone manufacturer built what is now called the “Spaceship,” creating one of the most aesthetic working locations yet.
The buildings follow the industrial look that the manufacturer is famous for, using clean steel and glass to provide their workers with some of the best workplace views. Unfortunately, the glass walls may come tumbling down.
According to Bloomberg, Apple’s employees are running into the very glass walls that are meant to help foster teamwork and a more open atmosphere.
Distracted by the iPhones that were made famous by the company, employees are unable to notice the walls until it is too late, according to sources.
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Some even started sticking post-it notes to the glass walls as warnings, but those were taken down as they don’t fit with the building’s aesthetic.
It’s not the first time that Apple’s love for glass had consequences. In 2011, 83-year-old Evelyn Paswall walked into the glass wall of an Apple store, breaking her nose. She sued the company, arguing it should have posted a warning on the glass. The suit was settled without any cost to Apple, according to a legal filing in early 2013.
But it asks an important question, should we be making glass wall partitions? How much can we use?
Why and why not.
Glass partitions/walls have been having a great time lately, becoming a popular choice for many companies who are building or remodeling.
This is due to some of the great benefits it can bring.
Glass walls take less space and are able to maintain an illusion of openness, even if you’re office has a lot of rooms. It provides natural light for all employees, which is proven to improve productivity, and reduces your utility bills.
It allows employees a space to write and scribble, making it a great addition to brainstorming sessions, and is great at encouraging teamwork.
These are some of the reasons why glass has become widely selected for new offices, but as we can see with Apple, it does have its own drawbacks.
Disadvantages of glass partitions
The “Fishbowl” effect may have team members unable to cope with pressure, as they may feel like they are always being watched and unable to relax. This is a common feeling, with some people leaving the office or hiding in enclosed rooms to take a breath.
Sitting in your own office should be focusing and orienting, but many are actually having issues with distractions.
It may be hard to concentrate as people walk by, or you can see coworkers talking and joking together. Glass makes it harder to shut out the world around you.
Glass may be used to foster teamwork and open communication, but individual privacy takes a big hit with only glass walls. In an office filled with glass or with an open plan, you may find conference rooms taken as people need space for private calls, or even just a small space to take a break.
It also makes it harder for some team member to enjoy the small things. Taking breaks, relaxing and napping, may become difficult. Although these relaxing activities help with productivity, many may opt for coffee instead of being seen openly.
Glass office owners must also close doors softly, which can be saddening for the door-slamming lover.
The “Bird” effect of glass partitions, as we learn from Apple’s Spaceship, walking around the office can become dangerous when distracted.
Lastly, soundproof doesn’t always mean soundproof. While you may not hear everything clearly, glass does allow for sound to go through, unlike a solid drywall. Those with loud voices may have to lower their voices, and people outside the area will need to keep it down a notch.
What to do?!
If you are truly into the trend of glass partitioning, you may try adding something to your glass walls to ensure people can see them.
A sleek logo made of vinyl frosting may be a perfect addition, or patterns of frosted glass may give your office a chic and personal look. You could also try a slightly tinted glass, it may be enough to provide your team members with some warning before they crash into it.