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“苹果公园”真能提高工作效率吗?

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2017年09月22日

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The iPhone X was the focus of Apple’s launch event on Tuesday, but the venue was equally alluring. Tim Cook, chief executive, unveiled the device in the Steve Jobs theatre, a sleek auditorium at Apple Park, its new head office in Cupertino.

上周二苹果(Apple)发布会的焦点是iPhone X,但举办发布会的场所同样吸引人。首席执行官蒂姆•库克(Tim Cook)在史蒂夫•乔布斯剧院(Steve Jobs Theater)发布了这款设备,这座新潮的礼堂位于该公司在库比蒂诺的新总部,苹果公园(Apple Park)。

Apple Park, a $5bn campus for 12,000 staff with a vast circular building surrounding a park planted with oaks and fruit trees, is an emblem of the US technology industry’s latest craze. An industry of start-ups founded in garages wants to redesign employee activity, prodding engineers to get up from their desks and exchange ideas.

苹果公园工作园区造价50亿美元,可容纳1.2万名员工,拥有一座巨大的环形建筑,中间是一座公园,里面种满了橡树和各种果树,它标志着美国科技行业的最新潮流。充斥着从车库里走出来的初创企业的该行业,想要重新设计员工活动,鼓励工程师们从办公桌前站起来,与同事交流想法。

Apple Park is “a building which is pushing social behaviour in the way people work to new limits”, says Stefan Behling of Foster + Partners, its architects, in an official video. Apple is not alone: Amazon plans a $5bn second head office and Nvidia, a chipmaker, has built a two-storey office with spaces at its heart to “spark collisions”.

苹果公园是由福斯特建筑事务所(Foster + Partners)设计的,该事务所的斯蒂芬•贝林(Stefan Behling)在一个官方视频中表示,“这座建筑正在推动社会行为,让人们在工作中达到新极限。”苹果并不是唯一这么折腾的企业,亚马逊(Amazon)计划斥资50亿美元建立第二个总部,芯片制造商英伟达(Nvidia)建了一座两层楼的办公大楼,其中心位置设有“激发碰撞”的空间。

The vision is as ambitious as that of Louis Sullivan, the architect of early US skyscrapers, whose 1896 essay “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” declared loftiness to be “on a high road to a natural and satisfying art”. The contrast is that, instead of skyscrapers that split staff across floors, they are building utopias in wide, flat campuses.

它们的愿景与美国早期摩天大楼建筑师路易斯•沙利文(Louis Sullivan)同样雄心勃勃。沙利文在1896年发表文章《从艺术角度思考高层办公大楼》(The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered),断言高层建筑将“迅速成为一种自然的、令人满意的艺术。”二者的不同之处在于,摩天大楼将员工隔离到不同楼层,而科技巨头们在广阔、平坦的园区里建起了乌托邦。

But utopias are tricky: people do not always enjoy collisions, nor having their social behaviour pushed. As John O’Brien, senior director of real estate at Nvidia, says: “Human beings do not like change, and engineers like it the least.” There is reason to be reluctant about being made to mingle: people often get most done when left in peace.

但这些乌托邦问题很多,人们并不总是喜欢碰撞,也不喜欢自己的社会行为受到“推动”。正如英伟达房地产高级总监约翰•奥布莱恩(John O'Brien)所说:“人类不喜欢变化,工程师们尤其不喜欢。”人们不愿被迫交流是有原因的:人往往在不受干扰时最有成效。

The guilty secret of many corporate transitions to open plan offices and “hot desking” is the desire to save money. As work patterns become more flexible and technology makes remote working easier, one study found that the average desk is only occupied about half the time. Allocating everyone a locker and telling them to find a free desk when they arrive costs less.

许多企业之所以转向开放式办公室和“轮用办公桌”是因为一个难言之隐:想省钱。随着工作模式变得更加灵活,随着技术进步方便了远程办公,一项研究发现,办公桌平均只有大约一半时间被占用。给每个人分配一个储物柜,告诉他们来公司时找一张空办公桌,就可以降低成本。

The tech industry is innocent of that. Its main motivation for reconfiguring these campuses is not cost but revenue, the belief that innovation springs out of collaboration and that is inhibited by walls and floors. Everyone has his or her own workstation at both Apple and Nvidia and these buildings also allow them to gather and huddle when working together on projects.

但科技行业没有这个问题,其重新布置园区的主要动机并不是成本,而是收入,它们认为创新源于协同合作,而楼层和墙壁阻碍了人们协同合作。苹果和英伟达的每个员工都有自己的工作站,两家公司的办公大楼也让他们在合作推进项目时可以聚在一起集思广益。

The apotheosis is “activity based working”, an approach to office design pioneered in the mid-1990s in the Netherlands by the consulting firm Veldhoen at companies including the insurer Interpolis. Rather than staying in one place, staff should move among zones during the working day, depending on whether they are working normally, focusing quietly, or collaborating.

其所信奉的是典范是“基于活动的工作”(ABW),这是20世纪90年代中期荷兰首创的办公室设计理念,由咨询公司Veldhoen为保险公司Interpolis等企业设计。员工们在上班时不应原地不动,而是要在不同区域间移动——取决于他们是在正常工作、安静沉思,还是协同合作。

This can create uncertainty for employees, who have a human tendency to gravitate to one spot. (When told that the Financial Times is considering activity based working on its return to its former London head office, I was among them.) Some Apple engineers were reported to be dismayed at having to work in newly designed open plan “pods” at Apple Park.

这可能给员工带来不确定性,因为他们有一个人类天性:待在一个地方。(在被告知英国《金融时报》在重返原来的伦敦总部大楼之后将考虑采用“基于活动的工作”时,我也是这样的一个员工。)据说苹果的一些工程师对于不得不在苹果公园新设计的开放式“舱”工作感到沮丧。

As a result, activity based working often does not operate as planned. A study by Leesman, a workplace research group, found that while it often boosts productivity, many employees stuck to familiar habits. About 70 per cent of those in activity based workplaces still anchored themselves to a single desk, which the study concluded “seems a catastrophic failure”.

其结果是,“基于活动的工作”往往无法按计划实现。专门研究工作场所的机构Leesman的一项研究发现,虽然灵活办公往往能提高生产率,但许多员工坚持熟悉的习惯。大约70%灵活办公的员工依旧守着一张办公桌,该研究将这种局面总结为“看来是一场灾难性的失败”。

It is also a waste, given the amount of ambition and money that goes into configuring these offices. There must be something in it for employees or they will not change their ways, no matter how much companies abolish walls to create space or alter furniture.

考虑到布置这些办公大楼所投入的雄心和金钱,这也是种浪费。灵活办公必须对员工有些好处,否则他们不会改变自己的习惯,无论企业怎样大规模拆除墙壁来创造空间或改变家具。

Companies should start by recognising what their employees fear losing. Gensler, the architecture firm that designed Nvidia’s new building, pointed out in one study that workers face “less space, less privacy . . . more distractions” in offices, as well as spending more hours working. Collaboration had to be balanced with “extended periods of uninterrupted focus”.

公司应该先认识到他们的员工在担心失去什么。负责设计英伟达新大楼的建筑事务所Gensler在一项研究中指出,员工在这样的办公室面对“更少个人空间,更少隐私……更多干扰”,而且在工作上要花费更多时间。协同合作必须用“长时间不受打断的专注”来加以平衡。

They also need to accept that not every kind of professional works in a similar way. Some jobs require the kind of constant moving from communal discussions to individual focus that activity based working is designed to facilitate. In other cases, employees work most efficiently in one place every day and prodding them to migrate around the office is a pointless distraction.

企业还需要接受一个事实:不是所有职业的工作方式都是相似的。有些工作需要在集体讨论和个人思考之间不停切换,基于活动的工作就是为了方便这种工作而设计的。在其他情况下,员工们每天在一个地方办公才最有效率,鼓励他们在办公室里搬来搬去是没有意义的干扰。

Sullivan wrote influentially that “form ever follows function” and concluded that in skyscrapers, “tiers of typical offices, having the same unchanging function, shall continue in the same unchanging form”. This was the early 20th century template: floor upon floor of small offices, “similar to a cell in honeycomb, merely a compartment”.

沙利文写下了那句颇有影响力的“形式永远服从功能”,并得出结论称,在摩天大楼里,“不同楼层的典型办公室拥有相同的不变功能,应继续保持相同的不变形式。”20世纪初的模板就是这样的:一层层的小办公室,“类似于蜂巢中的巢室,只是一个隔间。”

A century later, the need for uniformity has been eroded by changes in technology and working patterns. The 21st-century office performs a variety of functions and has to take on various forms. Silicon Valley’s campuses will work if they are flexible enough to allow diversity, not if they are technology utopias that try to re-engineer the behaviour of the people inside.

一个世纪后的今天,由于科技和工作模式的变化,对统一性的需要已被削弱。 21世纪的办公室执行多种功能,必须具有多种形式。如果硅谷的园区足够灵活,容得下多样性,而不是成为试图重新设计人们在园区内行为的科技乌托邦,它们将会取得成功。
 


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