Even when soccer is over, you have to contend with people playing grab-ass all over the office, or jerks (like me) with annoyingly loud keyboards. The modicum of utility of me "jumping into a conversation" really goes out the window when I'm forced to wear headphones all day.
I really don't have a good way of measuring or fully quantifying how much less productive I am personally, but haven't there been a ton of studies that indicate anywhere between 1-1.5 hours a day is wasted per employee due to the open office? I assume that labor is the most expensive part of any big-ish company, so it feels like the "offices are cheaper" argument shouldn't work.
Then, given all that, you get the coworker two seats down Slacking you. If you're Slacking folks within 10 seconds walking distance then what's the point of being in the office at all.
I think the ideal would be commuting to the office one day a week to take care of meetings which are more productive in person such as sprint planning, grooming etc.
There was a study done on the interruption effect of e-mail https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/1328726018000...
seriously, lets just give up on the notion of assigned spaces, idk what value there is when we cant even collaborate because the 4 tiny meeting rooms for 100 people are sitting at the margins of the giant open office. and there aren't any other whiteboards or projectors to use to have conversations. everyone is already wearing headphones so they can try to have a thought to themselves.
there are lots of alternatives. assign rooms to projects and have the principals mostly hang out there. couch areas and pub areas and cubby areas...rooms where you really aren't supposed to talk or hum or do anything out loud.
we've given up any actual utility of the office and are just hanging on to the barest trapping.
Having worked at a company, where they had couch areas: Management will place the couch areas in the middle or adjacent to the desks and it will all be done in an open floor. A couch area with no walls is an invitation to have loud conversations/phone calls in the middle of the office.
If you’re not going to give people phones just take the phones away, not pack people in like sardines.
So when bosses realised they were throwing money away, they came up with the open office with flex-desks: no-one has a fixed place, you can sit whereever you want. And there are less desks than people.
That can work out quite well (I work in such an office) but it depends greatly on ehtics or rules: no TVs with soccer games, no speaker-phone (but only headset) and rooms available for discussions or phone calls. And there is a general area (quite large) where you can drink your coffee and discuss the soccer matches or Tour de France results...
For me it works, but I can imagine that without the requirements listed above it can be a cumbersome workenvironment.
If a company believes it will gain more from “saving money” on open plan offices or hot desking than it will from just paying more to facilitate more and better work from employees through buying the best tools (a private office is a tool like a keyboard or ergonomic chair), it’s self-evidently a company to get far, far away from.
Consider “flex keyboards.” Management realizes that not all keyboards are in use all day, because people are in meetings, at lunch, etc.
So nobody gets their own keyboard. You have to locate an unused keyboard at the times when you need to type.
This is no different than “flex desks.” In both cases (keyboards, desks), the unit cost of providing the dedicated resource to the employee is trivial compared to far more pressing concerns, like producing working software to increase revenue, or bullshit executive compensation.
Even real estate costs for private offices in dense urban areas are trivial by comparison.
I work mostly from home but I do have a cube in the local office. If we got tight for space, it would absolutely make sense to give away my space to someone who would use it more and have me just grab an open chair for those times I have meetings or other reasons to be in the office.
If I had a private office, I would still work from home most of the time. A private office doesn't eliminate a commute.
Why would this make more sense than moving to a bigger office or building more space for the new employee to have a desk without taking yours? Cost is absolutely not an answer.
If they can afford to hire more but not to expand and give each worker adequate space, it suggests the company is just wrong. They actually can’t afford to hire more and would be creating problems if they do. Rather, reinvest what would have been spent on crammed headcount into the ability to expand spatially and later increase headcount with adequate space.
If a company, even a sink-or-swim growth mode start-up, believes it needs to hire people faster than it can provide minimally adequate space for them, then the company is just wrong. That is just not a thing.
Costs do not affect revenue. Perhaps you mean profit?
I'm not arguing for hot-desking as a standard approach, which indeed likely negates any benefits to teams being co-located. But for people who are allocated space that they rarely use? Why not?
People who think cost drives open plan office choices seem to think corporate management are too stupid to ask, what is 10% of our total salary base for these workers. It makes no sense. People have been measuring productivity and morale in knowledge work for a hundred years. Of course they can directly compare cost savings on floor space with metrics correlated with productivity lost to worse workspace, and tie it to the bottom line.
The observable spending habits of companies suggest cost utterly cannot be a driving factor here.
Can you think of reasons why maybe each student doesn't have their own helicopter but does have their own headset (assuming they were cleaned properly after each use and hygiene wasn't a concern)? Those same reasons apply to the office/keyboard situation.
The logic is that, compared to the salaries of software engineers and revenues of many tech companies, desks and keyboards are extremely cheap.
The cost of a ~$100k engineer spending 10m per day looking for a desk, with 8h day and 200k total employee cost to employer, is ~4k/yr. Paired with the cost the company pays in developer annoyance potentially causing higher turnover or lower productivity , buying more desks and office space is likely the cheaper option. One helicopter per student is obviously not so...
Providing one office per knowledge worker would be cost-effective for companies.
Flight schools have a hard time surviving if they make grossly wasteful or negligent expenditures for the sake of politics and optics, because they are low-capitalized businesses with often much lower revenue per employee and less growth opportunity than highly capitalized tech companies.
A high capitalized tech company, on the other hand, can piss away money on dipshit open floor plan offices, roof decks, $500,000 Christmas parties, etc., and the executive committee doesn’t care. They have very little incentive to optimize that spending and often make spending choices based on the capricious and whimsical desires of an adult-baby CEO who is more like Veruca Salt than a competent business person.
The open office I am in ATM is one such places where a handfull of people (loud, discussing totally not related to work, factually completly idiotic conversations) spoil it for all others. There is nothing to be done about these people since they've been with the company forever and a day and are thus basically exempt from all rules (be it noice or dresscode).
5 Years ago I have actively stoped working from home to segrate work from family. Now I have found myself to do at least 1, often 2 days from home again and planning to change employer. No I will not tell them the reason since I can not affort to burn that bridge.
TL;DR Manager A makes a good impression by saving some office space, Manager B looses employees but will never find out why.
Not criticizing this person, I despise my open office environment too. I also wouldn't (and didn't) tell tell my employer about this when I left for a few years in the past for the same reason.
Especially when some people eat at their desks.
Generic rubber dome keyboards are torture — chiclet style keyboards surely violate a bunch of Geneva conventions.
Never mind the filth and grime.
I will keep a mouse and keyboard in the office under lock and key somewhere if I end up in that situation.
Really though the cost of office space vs people making 100k/year means you don't actually need top optimize it that hard. The core problem is they tend to come out of separate budgets, so some middle manager can write down they saved x million on a review / resume while costing the company 3x that indirectly.
PS: Used Model S's are also something to keep an eye on.
It's just unfortunate that the commute here in the Bay Area has gotten so bad that a lot of people end up working from home.
All of it is completely unrelated with work. And sort of sad, although its a good thing, that no matter what happens, humans will needs humans.
This is the world they wanted, when they dissolved unions and other pillars of stability, one mans grape-vine over "Unreliable mercenaries" is another mans freedom of choice.
Here's to Sienna and Florence, their high towers may stand a thousand year or crumble under the siege tomorrow, no-one cares only the chests in the deep cellars are whats important.
All those walls build to create synthetic loyalty- be it out of fear of being law suited for knowledge transfer, or cartels to avoid the rising prices of mercenary's - if history tells us one thing - in the end the war always wins.
"Wes Brot ich ess, des Lied ich sing,
wes Gold ich trag, des Tod ich bring."
There is no need in this.
Unless there's an urgency, or some complication that should be discussed in person; slack is the preferred method so as to allow the party you are interrupting a chance to change their focus in the least impactful manner.
If I go to someone directly, I am losing 10-15 minutes of my own productivity + the length of the conversation and that's multiplied by the number of people I interrupted.
Some people who I've worked with, love to have to have a face to face for questions or information that is not urgent and could easily be taken care of via slack. They seem to do so because they prefer to small talk, lament, debate or some other personal reason; they don't do it for technical reasons.
If your team can effectively communicate passively, on slack, your on a team that has a foundation from which a remote-work policy can easily be enacted.
Amen. We can work remotely. Let me work in my home office.
I'm sitting here now because there's scheduled railway maintenance going on. If not I prefer traveling to the office (it's more than 45 minutes each way.)
But as long as everyone can choose for themselves I think more people probably should work from home.
I have a coworker within ONE second of me, I can lean back a few inches and tap them on the shoulder. And I do, frequently, when they send me a 1:1 slack message.
"Oh I had a question for you in Slack"
"I'm three feet away from you, I'm not doing this over slack, what's up?"
Obviously this is different if they send a code snippet or an app screenshot that I need to look at, but even then when we need to discuss the next steps relevant to that snippet or screenshot, I'll still tap them over the shoulder
"Hey, did you try x?"
"Oh no I didn't, lemme see what happens..." pause "Yup that worked, thanks!"
According to this study open offices do reduce face to face communications: http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/1753/2017...
The only two rational factors why anyone would choose open office:
1. the floor space really is so expensive you can waste xx% of capital output of labour.
2. You inherit a dysfunctional organization or just a one you cannot trust, and want to "keep an eye" on everyone so they behave. Michael Bloomberg gave this rationale in New York.
3. Bonus round for hotdesking : You expect/have a fairly high churn rate. Why bother assigning people personal spaces since it's so much work to keep track of the facilities. Let the people find their own space. Besides, you might outsource xx% of your operations in near future so it's not like you plan on investing in long term team building.
So, any linear combination 1,2 or 3 should suffice as an explanation. Any serious publication which praises open offices is likely a piece by a consultant who makes a living out of peddling said solutions and are offering political propaganda to make the employees less resistant.
The most common irrational reason: You don't really have an opinion what consitutes a good working space but open offices seem to be trendy ("It's what the big boys are doing") and a consultant made you an offer to redesign your office space, so, why not.
I'm pretty sure the lemming see, lemming do explanation is one of the top actual reasons.
In general, let's not elevate anybody to superhuman status, no matter what Ayn Rand wants you to believe. It's never true, and it never ends well.
At least it ends. I work in a gigantic "airplane hangar" open office with no noise barriers of any kind stretching out to infinity. Everybody around me is on conference calls all day, every day. They put their phones on speaker and then yell louder and louder to be heard over each other. One of them is even one of the Important People with an office with a door that closes... which he leaves open all the time anyway.
You can listen to even fairly quiet music and you won't hear any conversations around you.
This is the big problem with headphones as a solution. You just trade sound disergonomy or physical discomfort, and it solves nothing. Like breaking your finger to distract from the pain of a gun shot wound.
Combine it with the fact that managers have repeatedly told me that wearing earplugs is “rude” and it’s just more of the no-win optics that drive open plan offices in the first place.
Glad I got out of that hellhole.
I've found any earplug or headphone option will make my tinnitus worse - sometimes days afterwards.
I explain my tinnitus to non-sufferers as being on the threshold of noise intolerance 24/7.
I'm surprised there hasn't been a lawsuit against any of these companies that expect employees to damage their health just so they can save on floorspace?
Now I have a very faint one that "toggles" once or twice a week and ALWAYS when I wear earplugs.
After ignoring the warning signs and also having an ear infection which I never bothered getting medical help for it got much worse.
It's settled down to a manageable level for me now but heed the warnings, you may save yourself a lot of misery in the long run.
I had a random infection a few years ago and just waited for it to pass. Which it did, eventually, but my tinnitus became much worse afterwards. I'm guessing, because the infection did further damage which could maybe have been avoided?
I can't say whether you should stop wearing earplugs because you may sometimes be in a situation where they protect your hearing. But, for blocking out background noise in an office, they're probably not a good idea?
[based purely on my own experience]
I think it's because when you double-stuff like I did, the only thing you can hear at that point is the ringing in your ears (and high heels on concrete floors). My brain seemed to lock in on the ringing at that point.
When I wear earplugs, the tinnitus is more prominent, so
after I take them out, my brain is kind of "latched" on to it for a while.
I thought everyone has it.
As an added bonus the obvious rigamarole I have to go through when a coworker taps me on the shoulder makes them more likely to send an email next time.
With earplugs inside noise-canceling phones I still get two layers of sound isolation but have a layer of sound isolation between me and the phones, providing finer volume control so I can add just enough music to finish the job of drowning out loud people around me without hearing damage.
It seems the best solution is to not have loud people around.
Wouldn't be necessary if we had actual offices, but there you go.
We have a couple of mobprogramming stations with big televisions, each team has 1 or 2 of these so there are about 5 in a 20m radius from where I sit. When the first game that Sweden played all of a sudden 3 of the televisions are turned on and of course they are _not(!)_ in sync.
So here I am trying to do some work with three TVs games all slightly delayed from each other, meaning one cheer turns into three.
Now I work at a large newspaper and we sit 40m from the editorial staff so that adds to the background noise. To top it all of someone in the sports department thought it would be a good idea to @channel (usually reserved for "OMG the website is down what do we do!?") when some of the TVs stopped working (not really a job for the developers..).
That just killed whatever positive things I used to think about open offices.
Until I read that, the worst I’d ever heard was a friend who worked next to a slamming fire door. He had to wear hearing protection/ear muffs. Get this: he was the PhD physisist that did all the hard math coding for the company.
He has a private office where he works now thank goodness.
Yeah, they say it promotes more collaboration because you may overhear something where your input is relevant and join in. Or something like that. While that may be true, the increase in UNwanted distraction completely overwhelms any benefit. So then they tell us to be respectful of people around us and keep things quiet - we don't want people to overhear you. Wait wasn't that the point?
This probably depends where you are. An open office plan might well let you use less than half of the square footage per employee, which in somewhere like Manhattan would potentially be saving you on the order of $5-10k per employee. Depending on how significant the productivity hit is, that might well be worth it.
And, from personal experience, companies do it even when the cost per square foot is 1/10th of that of NY.
Relative to what? Here are some portable room dividers:
You would be starting with a very tiny space if that doubles the square footage per employee. They completely eliminate visual distractions, give employees a feeling of privacy, and stop a lot of noise. Being portable, they can be changed around as needed, and you can easily create small groups.
Faster to deploy, wire, etc.
Since then I've heard they have installed what can only be described as rows of tables. They're not really desks. Just long rows of white tables where one row of employees faces another with an 8" glass divider between the two employees. You know; for privacy.
But that's just my experience. I've found it's difficult to underestimate management.
Is there anything less professional than watching a game at work? I really don't get why people do this, and why they think it's okay.
Granted, I don't like sports — but I like TV, and I wouldn't watch TV at work. I like computer games, but I wouldn't play computer games at work. It's just odd that sports fans think it's okay to distract people during work hours.
At least pop off down to the pub or something.
For reference, I work in a hardware engineering group. Some mesmerizing process would show up on screen, one person would stop and stare, and 5 minutes later we have a half dozen engineers who've stopped what they were doing to watch How It's Made.
Eventually we settled on Bob Ross as a happy medium in terms of "Pleasant Ambiance" and "Not Too Distracting."
And some dogs are jerks. Worked in a place where the boss brought their loud dog to work. Barked constantly, disrupted work, growled whenever clients came into the office. The boss acted like she didn't hear anything.
I like dogs. I have dogs (they came with my wife). But I don’t want to work in a goddamn kennel.
Sartre was right. Hell is other people.
When will they allow us to take our toddlers to work? Could really save on daycare costs :)
That same office (which, as I'm sure you have figured out, was an open office) allowed dogs. Mostly fine, I'd take our well-trained, quiet female pit bull into the office. She'd bug me to go play around outside more than I would have liked, but was otherwise inconspicuous. But as someone else in the thread has pointed out, dogs in the office doesn't scale. There's gonna be the one (or more) dog (much like the one child noted above) that doesn't belong in an office. One lady brought her other-dog-hating dog every day. "Bark, bark, bark" every time another dog was in sight. Etc., etc.
I guess my point is, yessh people, what happened to the professional work environment?
Maybe related to bullshit jobs since these people are obviously not doing any real work, just bringing their homelife to the office in order to make time pass quicker?
This thread of Hacker News kvetching has really lost focus on the case against open offices. This reads like a contest of who can be the most uptight in the office.
I go to work to well, work. I like my co-workers, don't mind talking with them a bit and am even friends with some of them. That doesn't mean I want them to bring all their distractions and things that bring them joy to the office. I want us all to get everything done quickly and correctly so that we can all go home and enjoy the things we like.
This sort of outlook might work for those of us that are workaholics, but for everyone else it's a major mental health hazard. Not everyone has wives or children or partners or scores of friends to spend their nights with. I wouldn't be so blase about taking all enjoyment out of the rest of the time those people are spending on this earth.
(Fun fact: Google is officially a dog company. Cats are highly discouraged.)
*Yeah, I know, live and let live, but that is basically impossible with the current sport fanatics around here.
In conclusion, have a down vote. Parent: have an upvote.
Also, as stated, even if you love sports, if I were to turn on something like Die Hard and cheer at the screen every few minutes when Bruce Willis does something awesome, or play a video game and yell profanities because I died, people would (rightly) think I'm a jerk and distracting everyone. Even if I only did once every four years.
I don’t begrudge people their entertainment, but surely it’s polite not to foist it on others? I don’t play Minecraft let’s play videos for hours at the office, after all!
Should they just give me a break to watch TV at work?
I've worked places where we would watch live streams of rocket launches (back when launches were less routine than they are now).
Many people who are trying to work do not care if the event is live. Even as someone who also enjoys watching rocket launches, I wouldn't cheer loudly when it took off, and I'd probably go to some kind of common area to watch it to begin with.
I was responding to a comment that compared watching a movie to following the World Cup live. The two are not comparable at all. I was also responding to other comments that were somehow dumbfounded by others wanting to watch the World Cup in general.
Plus of course all the normal games, etc.
Add it all up and there is fucking sports all the time.
Again not a problem as long as you don't drag me down to that level.
Do you work at Sterling Cooper Draper?
> people are running/playing around and yelling like children at the office. It's not too uncommon for startups to have Nerf guns or something.
I hate this sort of environment combined with expectation to stay late. It always seems to me that if people would work instead of playing, we might not have to stay late. And that we are not working as much as we brag about, because people play a lot.
I don't know that I wouldn't work late even if I had a private office, but I do think that I'd be able to accomplish more.
Of course then, I am tired also in the evening and that limits what I can do in the evening. (If I am too tired to code, I am also too tired to play logical game or learn something.)
One day I'll write that book I keep thinking about. It'll be glorious.
Sure hope you're not googling it in an open-plan office...
I closed tab very very fast.
Uncommon but not rare term where I grew up.
I wouldn't suggest changing the office layout if I were only distracted by events every four years. I get distracted by events related to the open office every single day; the latest one just happened to be the World Cup when I wrote that.
Didn't you know that you shouldn't use headphones in an open-plan office, because it prevents you from collaborating with others? /s
If you want to watch soccer, take a vacation day.
Riiight, because soccer and office work are so similar!
EDIT: I get the point, that was a joke.
Somehow the author missed the primary reason for the open office configuration: "Because it cuts the costs of office space by a HUGE amount (certainly more than half)."
I suppose "Because it makes it easier for managers to keep an eye on their employees and see when they are slacking off." figures in also. Although it's probably a sign of poor management.
It's not about collaboration, it's not about socializing, it's about money. Just like all other business related decisions.
I'm building my own company now, fully remote, and from an engineering output point of view I've never seen such productivity. No ass-in-seat supervision, no assigned hours, just straight throughput of engineering tasks being closed and features being shipped every day.
How do you counter the common argument that face-to-face communication is the most high-bandwidth and one shouldn't throw away that competitive advantage unnecessarily? I'm not a proponent of that position; on the contrary, I don't want to accept it. But a lot of people think that way.
Most designated meetings, you can have just fine over a video conferencing system. Where f2f excels is in the conversations after you leave the meeting room - just a casual question to some other person from the meeting, which evolves into an impromptu 5-minute chat. (That is usually more valuable than the entire meeting :)
Spontaneous conversation is incredibly valuable. (Which, ironically, is also cited for open offices). I believe that if you start with a fully remote setup, you are growing a culture that will move these conversations to IM or other channels, by necessity. You'll likely be fine.
But you cannot move a company that has grown up with a culture of f2f meetings to a culture of IM conversations - it's too deeply ingrained.
IOW, you're not "throwing away" something if you build a remote culture from the start. Both models can work, but switching models is hard.
I work on accessibility for people with disabilities, and I'm blind myself (well, legally blind), so I think a lot about including people with disabilities. It seems to me that working with people with some kinds of disabilities, e.g. deafness or a severe speech impediment, would be akin to forcing an in-person team to switch to IM. (I have no direct experience working with people with those disabilities, so I'm happy to be educated.) So I speculate that starting out remote would also make the team more inclusive in this area.
FWIW, I personally don't benefit from the "high bandwidth". I'm legally blind; I can't read facial expressions or body language, or even recognize specific faces. SO for me, face-to-face amounts to little more than audio communication with full frequency range and zero latency or drop-outs. All that to say that I can only understand face-to-face communication (edit: as it works for most people) second-hand, so I'm curious, not being argumentative.
It gets labeled many things, like social anxiety, aspergers, many other stigmatized disorders - but this is often my root problem - being overloaded with the amount of information present in social environments.
I have greater clarity when I can think separated from people physically, most often through text. I've gotten better with audio, but in person communication is still something of a struggle.
I'm not being argumentative either. Just people have differences, and they aren't always easy to notice, identity, or correct.
I have some folks I'm very close with where this is not the case. But that's taken a very long time for me, and it is something that has required a lot of patience, understanding, communication, tolerance, forgiveness, hope, and perseverence. It's still something that is just about, the opposite of easy, for every new person I'm introduced to. I am generally told that I'm a reasonably easy to get along with person casually, aquaintance wise, although I consistently apologize for random social behaviors, masking them over with the words awkward, impulsed, compulsed etc. I have a tendency to ramble about technical things and this is bad when I have a tendency to be hypercritical over software (as I'm never sure how my preferences about code may approve or reject the preferences of those I talk to, but that's getting off track). There'stuff that just goes down to the core of us that is intrinsic to our orderings, organizations, and structurings of information - which I'm sure you understand from being blind. In my experience, attempting to change these things is more costly than the benefit 'correction' would provide.
But that's me, PTSD and an understanding of psychology has made me a better software developer by refining my understanding of automation, as well as helping me remove myself from the headspace of what originally was so painful to experience. It doesn't go away, but it gets easier to live with, some days are harder than others, but I still consider myself fairly lucky given everything I've been able to do with what I have.
Text is just crystal clear. I have a tendency to ramble on the internet and I've gone into that wormhole of introspection of 'what will this do to me if I say this', some variant of the halting problem, recurrent infinite descending chains of when minds decide to stop inferencing using limited, selective sets of information, but, shrug. People have said I'm good at writing, and I hope my tendency to overthink has only led to improvement.
This whole exchange has been interesting. Thanks again.
I do think having diversity in all things is important, they push one's boundaries and allow oneself to redefine oneself. Taking care to reflect on the moment and the big picture, that's important.
Too much of anything is not a good thing, so there is always a need to balance. This allows one to translate skills from one interface to another. The big picture / in the moment reflection / introspection is important because it allows for self direction, instead of just getting caught up in all this mapping of skill set to skill set towards some ideal of being 'well rounded'.
I generally just prefer my base to be text because I code a lot and that's the headspace I need to stay in. Some communication, sparsely distributed in other forms is fine, but too much can direct away from the focus, which in my preference is produce good code, and solve problems in ways that get the closest to perfect I can get, without tipping the balance of losing sight of all the other code information, retaining structure and direction, uniformity, solutions for problems.
I don't enjoy living in a text vacuum as that can get severely isolating when done to excess, but sometimes having that space is necessary for me to continue laying out my own foundation of structure, preference, and direction, as I continue to learn new stuff.
Thank you for your interest and questions.
I often express myself poorly and this extra feeling helps me realize it and take some corrective measures. Really helpful when trying to communicate a difficult technical concept.
In face to face meetings, many companies (like ones I have worked for) have limited meeting spaces and it's quite hard to book a conference room for more than an hour. Often times, we'd shuffle from one conference room to another.
So even in-person isn't quite as effecient and productive as it could be.
And thus, there is no incentive to change it. Cause total productivity is the same.
Yeah, but people are replaceable. Whereas you, as an entrepreneur, only have one life to live. Choose wisely.
Employee time is usually a lot more expensive than the space they occupy. At least in tech.
You could save quite a lot of money on furniture if everyone sat with their laptops on the floor. But in reality that would be more expensive since the difference in productivity will outweigh the furniture cost.
I would happily buy my own sodas (I don't drink them anyway), chips/snacks (I don't eat them at work), coffee (I do drink coffee!) if it meant I never had to sit in an open office environment again.
Accountants don't get to decide the office layout in my experience.
These days I mostly work remote by choice and am good with that. Some of it is better tech to work remote; I didn't even have broadband for most of my time in that former job. But it's also that I have no particular interest in spending a lot of time with coworkers generally beyond what I need to get my job done.
But I'm not sure that new engineers at that company were fundamentally different from new engineers joining, say, Facebook today.
Meanwhile, there's a thriving and growing industry selling desks in trendy open plan offices to self-employed people who for the most part could do their work in the privacy of their own home if they didn't think the atmosphere of an open plan office was worth paying for.
A lot of people I know work remotely in whole or in large part. But I've also worked with people who either felt the need for work-home separation or just found home to be too distracting a work environment in one or more ways.
I think the real reason is managers want to be able to see everyone at a glance; it's all about control.
Well it is still a bad decision. Libraries are an open work space and still manage to provide a reasonable working environment. This is less about money but more about a wrong perception of work.
The real reason for open office layout is this:
- we do not trust ourselves and our employees to do what we say
It is only really start ups that cannot afford to do this. Ironically because they have a small number of employees, open plan offices do work for them because they have fewer employees.
I've had my own office and found it lonely and boring. I never got less work done than at that job. Everything took longer because I had to stand up and walk to talk to my team. Instant messaging sort of worked, but if they didn't respond immediately, you didn't know if it was because they missed the message or they weren't actually in their office.
Because I hardly ever talked to my team members I never felt any real friendship or camaraderie with them. That made it harder to get help when I needed it and made my day a lot less enjoyable.
I find that I thrive in open offices. I don't even need headphones to concentrate. Everyone is different I guess.
But the general point is: don't force people into an environment they hate and can't work in. I probably am several times more effective when I work from home in quiet. For others an open office is good.
I'm skeptical of people who say that being in an open office doesn't affect their productivity at all. Really? How can you be sure?
Just my personal observation how open office or a cube farm with loud neighbors affects me.
For me, the part of coding that is art simply does not happen in an open office.
I do have noise cancelling headphones, but I always have music when working - even when I'm working from home.
What we also have, which helps a ton, is an abundance of meeting rooms - some with a tiny table and four chairs. We'll still have a two minute discussion at our desks, but instinctively head to a room for longer discussions. I'm not sure if this was an intentional solution to the cons of open offices - but it seems extremely effective.
But the downside is I’m a workaholic. I spend too many hours working.
When I’m in the “work room” I work, otherwise I don’t. I think the brain associates different spaces with different modes of thinking.
I can’t get jack shit done at the office other than lots of meetings. To do real coding work, I have to remove people from my surrounding.
I think my best working experience was when I worked at a startup where there was a big "bullpen," but it was mostly for customer service; all other teams had massive conference rooms where you would have 3-5 people _max_ in that room, with the potential to shut the door if that team wanted privacy or more silence than other teams.
now I imagine dilbert's boss being sad in an office, looking at all the workers in cublicles and thinking of ways to make friends :D
I kind of think being in a group of 4-6 cubicles is pretty ideal
I am a IC and I love open offices.
Also agree that privat offices feel lonely and are a hassle.
I think like with many things there is just a vocal minority that bitching about open offices...we need more people speak up about all the benefits of open offices (besides the economic ones for the company that get cynically cited every time).