back to article Germans increase office efficiency with 'cloud ceiling'

So you thought you had deployed every form of office technology that could possibly increase the productivity of your company's cripplingly expensive salaried employees? You were wrong. Remorseless German boffins have discovered a way to make office workers still more efficient using - quite literally in this case - cloud …

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  1. Steven Jones

    Ever heard of the Hawthorne Effect?

    I hope the people evaluating this are aware of the Hawthorne Effect where it was determined that increases in productivity were not down to changes in the environment (which included lighting changes), but the special attention the subjects were getting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawthorne_effect

    Of course people are now well aware that the original experiment (and the conclusions drawn) we somewhat flawed. However, the basic Hawthorne Effect is very well accepted.

    This does not mean that environmental issues don't make a difference, but it's a good reason to be suspicious of press releases and *research* from interested parties.

    1. Ross R

      What Mr Jones said.

      A few days in far too short a time to see if there is a lasting effect.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      While you are correct in general you are wrong for this one

      IMHO - Hawthorne Effect got nothing to do with this particular one.

      I work mostly from home and my home office is in a loft. 80% of the roof is windows exactly for this reason. I have long noticed that my productivity is fairly proportional to the natural light level - blinds fully closed == productivity to min, blinds open == productivity to max. Similarly - looking back at 20 odd years I have been most productive in offices where I was next to the window (especially on the south side) and least in a "modernistic neon lit windowless cave".

      There is a simple explanation too. Most of us have some form of S.A.D. even though we do not care to admit it. There is nothing "hawthornic" to this Fraunhoffer gadget - it is just a big S.A.D. light.

      1. Oninoshiko
        Happy

        Sad light

        Awww... Cheer up light. We all have bad days!

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
          Devil

          A bit difficult

          It is the season for a S.A.D. person to be sad in the northern hemisphere :)

  2. wiggers
    Boffin

    Why not...

    link it to a camera on the roof and simulate actual weather conditions?

    1. Northern Fop
      Devil

      Too expensive

      Stick 'em in the car park, under some clear plastic sheeting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too expensive

        Well, that seemed to work for Borland, back in the day.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        plastic sheeting ? you were lucky!!

        we had to work out in t'car park, under a ceiling of crisp bags,

        in a hurricane......

        1. Mediocrates Silver badge

          We had to work in a urinal.

          1. Simon Neill
            FAIL

            Lucky you.

            We don't even get urinals here.

          2. ravenviz
            Joke

            Urinal? Luxury.

            We *were* the urinal.

            1. Mediocrates Silver badge

              ...thought you looked familiar

    2. Tel Starr
      Unhappy

      Looking out of my window...

      Not a good idea. I think they might be trying to cheer the workers up not depress them.

      Can imagine this causing all sorts of problems to sleep cycles if used at night. It might require a 'twilight' mode (as in time of day, not sparkly vampire stuff) with less blue.

  3. spencer

    Cheaper and more effective than alternative cloud solutions.

  4. Piro
    Pint

    I've a better one.

    A restocked beer fridge.

  5. Jdoe1
    Pint

    Don't stop at ceilings

    Next there will floors with underwater scenes with tropical fish and sharks chasing those who wander too far from their desks.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Better Idea...

    The British version... paint the ceiling Grey and turn the sprinklers on every hour.

  7. pauly

    i remember some documentary a couple of years ago that showed experiments with ambient light in a pub/restaurant. it seemed that blue encourages us to be more active, telling our body clocks to wake up basically. so probably the same affect going on here.

    i also remember another one where blue light made time seem to pass more quickly!

    1. perlcat
      Pint

      I spotted their problem:

      "...experiments with ambient light in a pub..."

      Who the hell tinkers with the light in a pub? The best lighting my research has shown is that alcohol is best and most efficiently consumed in dimly lit rooms, with the proper womb-like atmosphere of pipe smoke and stale beer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Women start looking better with less light and more beer.

  8. Andrew 98

    @perlcat

    "with the proper womb-like atmosphere of pipe smoke and stale beer."

    Your mother must have been quite remarkable.

    1. Mako
      Happy

      I am profoundly...

      ...glad that I swallowed my tea before reading that. Otherwise tea|nose>screen.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Two words...

      Monica Lewinsky...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        He said pipe smoke...

        ...not cigar smoke. Different Intern.

  9. b166er

    pauly: blue light staves off the production of melatonin.

    Obvious if you think about it really, the sky is usually blue from first thing in the morning until sunset.

    Staring at a screen in the evenings is not helping you get to sleep because the images are usually more at the blue end of the spectrum. Street lamps should NOT be orange!

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Excellent!

    It would definitely be an improvement over the ICBM-like bunker-with-carpet atmosphere that I'm surviving in now.

    But can I have with a simulation of a STALKER-like blowout to get the coworkers to work instead of waiting, coffee in hand, for database fixes?

  11. zerocred

    They don't need windows...

    Geddit?

    Reaching for my coat cos its actually raining outside.

  12. Daniel Evans

    Pretty Dim

    Is it just me who thinks those photos make it seem like it's really rather dark in there?

    1. Alex Rose
      Thumb Up

      It's not just you...

      ...but it's probably just that whoever took the photo didn't have a clue.

      The human eye is an amazing organ and can deal with ranges of light far far wider than the best camera. I suspect that what's happened here is that the camera's metering system is picking up on the bright light from the window and exposing for that, which leaves the interior of the room looking dark and underexposed.

      This is a situation where some fill-in flash would have helped.

      1. The First Dave Silver badge
        Boffin

        Fill in flash would _probably_ have washed out the main subject here, ie the illuminated ceiling...

        1. Alex Rose

          Yep, my bad

          In fact looking at the images again I suspect it's metering from the ceiling rather than the window. And ND filter might be better than fill in flash.

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Hogwarts

    Harry Potter's school hall ceiling displays what the sky outside is doing.

    It may be low resolution, because they have to go out of doors for astronomy class. Or they didn't think of that.

  14. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    I vote for a retractable roof office!!

    Or maybe we should all just take the day off to go see a football game.....

  15. James 36
    Pint

    optional

    @Andrew 98

    you sir, owe me my first new keyboard of the year

  16. Alistair 1
    FAIL

    I notice that the monitor is off in the picture- must be very productive then ;)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    someone is getting ripped off.

    you could do that with common electronics for much less than 1000 euro per sq metre. now i have an excuse to make a disco ceiling!

  18. Herby Silver badge

    Don't we have a solution like that?

    It is called Windows. Or in rare circumstances the later invention called a SKYLIGHT.

    No, I'm sorry Microsoft doesn't make them and it doesn't need to be licensed.

    1. zb

      ssssh

      or someone will patent them.

  19. John Latham

    @Daniel Evans

    Good spot. The blue sky is darker than the clouds, so when the cloud cover increases it gets brighter.

    I foresee productivity reduced at any place that employs pedants.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When the boss walks in...

    ... do the clouds turn black, accompanied by a low rumbling of thunder?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once had a...

    ...ahem.. smoking room with blacklights, and flourescent stars on the ceiling. The blacklights made the blinds glow a nice pale blue, and made the room look like it was in perpetual "dawn" mode.

    The only problem with the room was that you'd never get sleepy in there. You'd look at the clock and it'd be time for work the next morning (and it wasn't because of what was being smoked).

    1. ravenviz

      kippers?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blimey!

    Just opened the blinds a bit more - hoping for a massive improvement over close-to-zero here...

    Surely this is an example of blue-sky thinking?

    (The no-sex place I work at has intense neon lighting and red-hot radiators and filthy keyboards so I am in a permanent state of stress, thinking about disease, overheated and squinting. Plus the coffee is either awful or too expensive. Also everypermyone is working their notice and the place is full of Indians sucking their knowledge away to Mumbai. The canteen is poor and the toilet smelly. I've been here two months and still not been given any Unix logins, have nothing to do but look busy and offer some advice once or twice a week. To be honest, not one of my best contracts.)

  23. SilentLennie

    Now that is what I call cloudcomputing :-)

    Now that is what I call cloudcomputing :-)

  24. Tom 7 Silver badge

    My company thought it was a great idea years ago

    they've installed the sprinklers already.

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