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The fact that you have to wear noise-canceling headphones (bought on your own dime, no less) to get work done is an indication that the space has failed in its primary purpose, which is to enable you to get your work done. A good office layout (or any good architecture, really) does not force the people who live in it to fight against the environment it creates.

You don't have to, you can do it. And who said anything about buying it on your own dime? It depends on the company but I'm fairly sure any of the big companies with such open offices will provide them to you for free upon request.

I would say the benefits of getting your work done vs having complete and entire silence are not so easy to summarize. A lot of people in this thread seem to assume that an open space office is super noisy full of people talking where in my (very limited, I admit) experience there's hardly any noise other than the sound of people hammering on keyboards (and the AC). There are occasional conversations but those last a few seconds because, as I already said, if they were longer, people would move out of the way.

Maybe it depends on the company, people and office.

I am a SWE for Google and my area is super noisy. Construction, dogs barking (on our floor), phone calls, etc. My job requires me to work with a lot of PCBs, so I have to stay at my desk; I can't exactly curl up somewhere quiet.

I hate the noise level here. I haven't yet worked up the courage to expense a good pair of noise canceling headphones, but it may come to that.

Why are barking dogs tolerated in a software office? That's preposterous.

Google HQ is officially a "dog friendly" campus, and dogs are welcome in the engineering offices, where some bark. Some owners respond by taking their dogs outside immediately, but others just shush their pet, which of course resumes barking half a minute later.

Polite requests to take it away are met with "Oh, she's usually not like this, I don't know what's wrong, I'm sure she'll be quiet now..." And nobody wants to be "that guy" by telling the owners to take their dog and GTFO. So the dogs end up staying.

It does. We have people doing speaker phone calls with bad connections where they are yelling, endless joking and cackling, people walking by and saying 'hi' to you when you are deep in code. It's utterly impossible.

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