While there’s always something going on in the administrative fields, we’ve picked out a few of the more interesting stories to come out recently, including stories on IBM bringing its remote workers back into the office, the downside of open office layouts and office cats lowering stress in a Japanese tech company.

IBM to remote workers: Get back to where you once belonged

You may have read story after story about how companies are allowing their employees to work remotely and ‘telecommute’ into the office over the internet. IBM was a pioneer in this area, but now Big Blue is telling its remote employees they need to start working from the office again and collaborating more in person.

The new policy comes after IBM fell short of analyst expectations on revenue for the latest quarter — continuing a trend of quarterly revenue declines. Company executives said getting people together and collaborating face-to-face will spur the kind of innovation that is so crucial in the highly-competitive tech industry.

Those cynical of the move point out that Yahoo! enacted a similar policy in 2013, which produced mixed results. Given that history, IBM making remote workers come back into its offices could be a way for the company to drop workers via attrition rather than through headline-grabbing layoffs.

However, if the move works – it could reverse the trend across many sectors of more workers doing their jobs outside the traditional office.

Open-plan offices are bad for productivity

Speaking of trends that could be bad for productivity, a new research study has found the growing shift away from cubicle farms and toward offices with an open floor plan could be tied to lower productivity.

Published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, the new study looked at more than 40,000 workers in 300 US offices and found the negatives associated with open floor plans far outweigh the positives. In particular, the study found cubicle farms have better acoustics and privacy, as well as fewer issues related to employees’ personal space. These negatives weren’t enough to overcome any potential collaboration or communication benefits.

The study backs up another argument made in a recent Wall Street Journal article that said open floor plan offices have too much visual noise – or distracting activity around the fringes of an employee’s field of vision.

Office cats keep Japanese office cool and calm

In order to combat the stress notoriously found in the Japanese office environment, a Tokyo tech company has brought in nine housecats to live in its offices.  In addition to having cats live in the office, the company known as Ferray also offers a ¥5,000 bonus (about $735) to any employee who rescues a shelter cat.

While some employees find the cats soothing, company CEO Hidenobu Fukuda admitted there is a downside.

“Sometimes a cat will walk on a phone and cut off the call, or they shut down the computers by walking on to the off switch,” he told the Agence France-Presse.

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