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Closed or something in between. Open layouts tend to be loud and littered with distractions. They yield no privacy for the person to separate themselves from what's going on and just focus on solving a problem and getting things done.

Something in between can be a nice compromise so that you don't end up with everyone in an endless maze of totally private offices. Something with high walls that mostly encompasses the person into small work groups but easy enough to navigate if you want to step over and look at something with a co-worker.

Ideally, this would be coupled with adequate "common" space that's open and casual to allow for informal meetings and discussions in small groups but isn't the primary working space for people. Informal doesn't mean strictly business either. It should be comfortable enough space that people can take breaks and come lounge and shoot the breeze with co-workers. Conference rooms should only be needed for more formal presentations and private discussions which require phone, projection, or whiteboards for drawing things out.

 

Yeah, I'm in an open office, and it's a nightmare 99% of the time.

The 1% is when I'm the only one in the office. 😅

 

Polar layout. Pay people to move as geographically far apart as possible.

 

Remote - no need for an office that requires a commute (read: waste of time) and the overhead costs of having an office. Okay, now that that's out of the way... 😁

As an introvert, I can't stand open offices. Where I currently work is an open office layout. I've staked claim to a corner in the lounge area - it's still open, but it's a smaller area and far enough away from everyone to avoid most of the random interruptions.

It's also my experience that the higher ups, who generally dictate the open office idea, end up with private offices away from the masses. This reeks of hypocrisy.

An ideal (other than remote) would be somewhere in between - a hybrid layout. Have gathering spaces large enough for a single team (not open to the entire company) and have plenty of individual space. Teams can gather as needed, people have a smaller common area if they prefer it, or they can duck out when they need solitude.

 

Going to be one of the few who prefer an open office layout. The main reason is it makes me more aware of what the other teams are working on. I may see another team having an issue that I can pitch in to help. In turn, it fosters more cohesion and they'll be more willing to help out in turn despite being on a different teaem.

 

I like a desk in one corner, and an old armchair my dogs sleep on in the other. The video camera sits on top of one of the monitors, and points past me to the blank wall - useful for video calls with clients. I like to face a window, personally.

Or were you talking about actual offices? Where everyone has to work in the same room, distracting each other and wasting their day - and their money - travelling in just to do something they're perfectly well able to do from their office at home?

You're surely not that daft, are you?

 

I've yet to encounter a single developer narrating the wonders of the open space and the interruptions. I think open layout works for a small unit. Like 5 people in an office with open layout but inside a room with a closed door. One of my clients has literally 50 or so people in the same open space and it's ridiculous, they all wear headphones to try to get isolation. But this way the company saves money on office space...

These big open spaces are one of the many reasons why I remote work

 

Open layout! 💯
I currently work in a cubicle (very old-school corporate environment), and while at times I like it because it gives me some privacy, sometimes I find it hard to communicate with my other team members. I feel very closed off from everyone else. I prefer having a lot of natural light coming in (I have these awful fluorescent lights above me), a larger amount of desk space, and the ability to easily chat with my team members if I need to. There are definitely issues with open layouts too, like having little to no privacy, being easily distracted, etc., but if I had to choose, I'd pick an open layout almost always.

 

Depends on the team. Currently working in an open layout (every desk is hotdesked 🙃), it's pretty easy to get tapped on the shoulder. If I have my headphones in (busy mode) I try to ignore people unless they invade my personal space (waving hand in front of display/ poking) where I physically cannot ignore them. Often when a couple of people are collaborating at someones desk, there's just not enough space so I have to move up and invade someone else's space.

The company I used to work at had a giant office, with pretty big desks so you had a sense of personal space. All the devs were sat together and slacked first if someone looked busy. Or even not busy. We were all pretty introverted lol. I tend to communicate better over message too, I get a little panicked and stumble on a bunch of words when trying to explain something. :S

 

The ideal layout is going to depend largely on what sort of technology the company has in place to support collaboration and mobility within the modern workplace. In addition it's going to depend upon the amount of time you actually spend in the office and your creative role.

For those of us who need to go into the office 8+ hours a day, it's got to be some sort of closed space where you can clear the distractions, buckle down and pound out some work. Small offices, cubicles and quiet are absolutely necessary in order to operate efficiently in some way/shape/form.

But most businesses are turning to a more open layout because they have a mobile workforce that has a transient need for office space. We have telecommuters coming in one day a week, everything is done through video conferences, Slack, Teams, even the occasional e-mail. So from an expense point of view, it doesn't make sense to have a lot of closed off, dedicated space for colleagues who never actually use it.

The problem I've seen is that businesses take that cookie-cutter approach to office space because they think they're going to realize a savings. What worked well for the sales department isn't going to go so well with IT or the finance department. Departments with employees that have individually assigned projects or tasks don't need to have a lot of collaboration opportunities or quite frankly people walking around in the background as they try to finalize some last report or bit of code.

The problem is usually some bean counter doing a cost-benefit analysis for how much the company will save on their square footage. They don't take into account the 8+ hour workers and their need for quiet and/or privacy. They don't account for the need to have a lounge/breakroom/hideouts. And the senior managers don't get why open is such a distraction because they're still tucked away in offices where they can close a door.

The solution is not to buy everyone in the company noise canceling headsets.

 

Something in between works best for me. Right now, I'm in a totally open environment with neighbors who play radio music and are on the phone all day. It's either put headphones on, which I can't tolerate on my head for hours at a time, or try and ignore them, which doesn't work if I really need to focus. I'd really prefer remote, but not every company's culture has caught up to that yet and if a company is not "remote-first" then as a remote worker you might end up getting left behind.

 

The best work setup I've had was a huge, sturdy desk with capacious drawers, with my back to a wall, in what was otherwise an open office plan. Didn't hurt that we could open the windows, and were close enough to the ocean that we could smell the salt air on a nice day ;)

 

I think the key is flexibility. Personally, I like to have some quiet space w/out distractions to get work done, my ideal space at work would be a private office. But that's not for everyone, some of my teammates much prefer being out in the open with everyone around so they can hear what other people are working on and get conversations going about different things. I've worked a few places where they have a mix of both, you can sit out in the open if you want, or you can book a small (one person) room to take over for the day, as well as the opportunity to work from home when you want. I find that system works the best for the most number of people. Let them choose what works best for them.

 

Something in between. Open spaces are great for collaboration, mentoring, peer reviews, etc. However, when I really need to hunker down and get stuff done open spaces are really distracting.

One thing I have seen some open layout offices do is have small rooms or spaces that can be used without reserving them. So when you need to get stuff done, you go off on your own and camp in one of those spaces. Other options include parking yourself outside on nice days.

 

I'd love a more closed-layout space than I've currently got, just because I can get a little overwhelmed by noise over time (it doesn't help that we're next-door neighbors with the local youth symphony orchestra—no joke), but we also have a set of smaller closed rooms where people can go and work in ones or twos that are quieter, which is nice. I just wish I didn't have to leave my second monitor at my regular desk!

 

There's a rehearsal spot not far from our office. Nothing says "Time to go home for a weekend" like a bad Smells Like Teen Spirit cover

 

A room for ~10 people who mostly work together. I worked in an office with 3 or 4 other teams (haven't figured out the exact number) and, well, I have nothing good to say. But I still like an open layout because I don't like communicating with people I don't know and if you're not in the same room it's gonna take a long time before I stop getting anxious everytime you call

 

I am one of two developers working in an open space office. I like it, because of the sociability. But what I would like is if I had a company laptop, to take that to a free office room to get some quiet if I needed it.

 

I work in a open office for a bank. Is it loud? Yeah, sometimes more than others, but the whole block has some sort of sound blocking coating that reduces the noise.

Also, there are several meeting rooms and break areas that you can relax and have a coffee.

Before working here, I used to work at an "aquarium" and I believe that it depends on the company, the team and ultimately, the project, maybe sometimes you need it to be loud and have the people around you.

 

At my workplace we have something in between. It is divided by rows with a wall high enough dividing them so you don't see the people in front of you.

Apart from that we have private focus rooms that you can book. So it's nice.

I think, the real problem are your co-workers. I used to have this guy next to me who would be constantly interrupting me with a million questions and who also was very loud. It was driving me nuts, making me spend a good part of the day in the focus room.

On the other hand now I have a really cool guy next to me, very experienced who will interrupt me once every two days and always if he doesn't see me focused (i.e. headset on). :)

 

I really like a hybrid set up. Where I work currently, we have our scrum team all on one side of the building, with desks grouped into "pods" with 4 each, and low walls separating the pods. If I need to talk to QA, I can usually just walk over like 12 feet. If I need another dev, I have one sitting right next to me, and 2 more in our pod behind me, but if I need privacy, I throw earbuds in and nobody bothers me. The only time we have had any issues was when we had a business analyst leave our team, but not our area, so we had to deal with hearing him on conference calls all day. We also have a couple private offices that are open to anyone, in case you need a private conversation or extended cooperative session.

 

I like the whole Stanford D School reconfigurable spaces thing, but people often neglect the urgent need for hideouts in open plans. Open doesn't mean only having a romper room - at it's best it's a variety of spaces to suit a variety of needs. This means having an adequate number of solo and group quiet spaces.

I'm a little conflicted about whether we need to have "owned" or "claimed" spaces, but most humans I talk to seem to prefer quite a bit of space customization so you should probably have that ;-)

 

Closed, with open spaces for ad-hoc meetings and socializing with peers.

 
 
 

Closed, with 4 to max 6 people in one office. It's also nice to have some common open space, not just meeting rooms you have to book weeks in advance.

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A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.