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Discussion on: Open layout vs closed layout? Something in between? What's the ideal office layout?

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iedaddy

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.