Finweek English Edition - - Companies & Markets -

MONEY DOWN THE LOO IT’S CLEAR THAT Amer­i­can ex­ec­u­tives haven’t quite wo­ken up to the new re­al­ity on Wall Street. First, there was the big three mo­tor man­u­fac­turer CEOs who flew into Wash­ing­ton in their pri­vate jets to ask for hand­outs. A fort­night ago it was the turn of once proud in­vest­ment bank Mer­rill Lynch CEO – John Thain – to mis­read the mood.

Thain de­cided to hand out bil­lions in bonuses to his fel­low bankers and treat him­self to a US$1m plus of­fice re­furb, in­clud­ing a wastepa­per bas­ket cost­ing more than US$1 000 and a $35 000 com­mode. Thain was fired, but his multi-mil­lion dol­lar pay­out should now mean he can af­ford to buy that fancy toi­let him­self. LIFE IN A CUBE FARM ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU SICK AUS­TRALIAN SCI­EN­TISTS have re­viewed a global pool of re­search into the ef­fect of mod­ern of­fice de­sign, con­clud­ing that the switch to open-plan has led to lower pro- duc­tiv­ity and higher worker stress. “The ev­i­dence we found was ab­so­lutely shock­ing,” re­searcher Dr Vinesh Oom­men, of the Queens­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy’s In­sti­tute of Health and Bio­med­i­cal In­no­va­tion, said.

“In 90% of the re­search the out­come of work­ing in an open-plan of­fice was seen as neg­a­tive, with open-plan offices caus­ing high lev­els of stress, con­flict, high blood pres­sure and a high staff turnover. The high level of noise causes em­ploy­ees to lose con­cen­tra­tion, lead­ing to low pro­duc­tiv­ity.

(Let’s just hope Aus­tralians don’t con­duct re­search like they play cricket.)

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