Last night, my 12-year-old daughter told the family at the dinner table that she'd been really freaked out when somebody rattled the doorknob during the lock down drill at her middle school.

She was frightened because they've blacked out the windowed panel in the classroom door, thereby making it impossible for a shooter to see inside and (consequently) making it impossible for my daughter to see the assistant principle rattling the doorknob.

With school shootings becoming increasingly common, schools creating and reinforcing lockable areas that aren't visible from the outside, so that an active shooter can't easily find targets.

At the elementary school in my town, for instance, they just added an (ugly) wooden facade that makes it more difficult to see inside the building from the parking lot and street.

By contrast, open plan offices almost always have large windows visible from the outside and, once you get through reception, have no place to safely hide once an active shooter gets inside the facility.

In the recent mass shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, the gunman began by open firing though a glass door to the newsroom. He was then able to pick off additional targets because the only place they could hide was under their desks.

The danger isn't just from outsiders. According to a just-published article in The Atlantic magazine, homicide--usually employee-on-employee--is now the third-most common cause of death in the workplace,

While many such homicides are one-on-one crimes, they're similar to mass shootings in that the perpetrator is a psychopath, a personality type that corporations may tend to favor. Put another way, today's potential school-shooter is tomorrow's potential workplace shooter.

Open plan offices will only make these inevitable workplace shootings all the more lethal. So CEOs and facility designers must make a decision: are the wholly fictional benefits of open plan offices worth putting your employees at risk? 

We've "hardened" our schools. Why not our workplaces?

Or here's an even better idea. Go back to having individual offices and liberal work from home policies, both of which are both more secure AND more productive than these absurd open plan shooting galleries.

Published on: Sep 9, 2018