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I'm a quiet type, and I often need time alone to think and write code and documentation. Nearly as often I also need to be communicating with cow-orkers and scribbling on their whiteboards. It's never all isolation, or all collaboration. It's a mix.

The "rah rah" social types railroaded us into a terrible cubical-based environment where scrums are taking place four feet from my desk and I cannot close a door to get a moment's rest away from people. I am becoming bitter and resentful, and while I am doing well, it is in spite of the system, not because of it.

Management loves it because they get to cram more people into the same amount of space. Managers get offices, of course.

Look: I've worked in collaborative environments. I know what they're like. I also know when I'm being fed a line of bull-poo about how open offices make things collaborative and agile and stuff. I can cope.

The real hidden cost? These environments drive good people away. Work area design is really, really tough.

In my experience, when someone who has designed your new area says the setup is for productivity and collaboration, what they have really done is optimize cost, and you have never had the opportunity to talk to them about your work habits (because that would have made them wrong, and increased the cost if they had truly listened).

Thank you for letting me vent. :)




The "rah rah" social types railroaded us into a terrible cubical-based environment

It wasn't anything other than economic rationalism.

Hell, one of our big banks - the kind that report record profits every quarter - moved a segment of staff into new offices... and only provided 80% of the seats. "Everyone will work from home one day a week". They hotdesked these staff - no guaranteed desk, no personalisation, no real way to even know whether a colleague was in or where on the floor they could be found. The kicker is that this wasn't minimum-wage call-centre staff oe similar, this was six-figure employees.

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I had a similar experience as an intern in the IT consulting division of a Big 4 accounting firm. Hotdesking was the official process.

In practice, certain desks were "reserved". Mere peons who hadn't been in the office on the first day it operated could take their pick of terrible desks on any one of three floors.

... if there were any left by 8am.

So in practice you had to get up at 6, log into their utterly terrible booking system (IE6 required and about two dozen ActiveX controls) and book it first thing.

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