Maybe it's because what used to take 3 hour meetings to settle, now took 3 minutes of talking with the guy next to you?
"productivity, as defined by the metrics used by their internal performance management system, had declined after the redesign to eliminate spatial boundaries.”"
Maybe their metrics are wrong? Maybe they measured lines of code written, and maybe they used to do busywork writing lines of code that weren't really needed, and now they're actually able to get things done? They don't say anything about their metrics and expect us to trust that they were just less productive.
How did these people get -anything- done? They spent 3/4s of their day in meetings.
After the switch, they spent 1/4 of their day in meetings.
WTF? I'm sorry, but how the heck did the adoption of an open office lead to people getting half their day back?
Or maybe folks are just more willing to discuss things in an office, where they have some privacy and aren't bothering everyone around them.
I sure miss my office.
I often do unpaid overtime simply to have time alone and I consider that during those times my productivity triples.
All open office plans should offer quiet private areas for employees where they could go and focus on complicated issues. Sadly, I have yet to see anyone offer it (except maybe the big names like Google and Amazon).
From my perspective it's the worst of most worlds, but they did manage to cram a lot more people into the space so it does save on building/office costs.