In the wake of the latest diatribe against open office plans, Kay Sargent, director of workplace strategies for Lend Lease, says the vitriol is misguided. Google didn’t “get it wrong” and the open office trend isn’t “destroying the workplace”. Here are six approaches to creating more harmonious workspaces, open or otherwise.
In 2008, companies across the nation were forced to dramatically cut costs and reduce space. The changes were billed by many as zeitgeist-y transitions to open plan offices that enable collaboration. But, in the rush to get things done, a true understanding of how to create and use space that supports collaboration, engagement, and performance went missing from many of those plans. Many of them resulted in horror stories like the Washington Post‘s recent, much-commented “Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace”. But does it surprise you that dragging employees, kicking and screaming, into a new open office isn’t productive? The right environment depends on the type of work a company does, its demographic, and the company’s culture. The right solution will vary from company to company, and sometimes even amongst departments within the same organization.
Here are six things to keep in mind if you want to create a more harmonious work environment—open or otherwise—that may actually boost employee morale and performance.
1. You don’t have to offer yoga. Your employees are already super flexible.
The most flexible thing in any office is the people, yet most offices in the past were designed to support totally sedentary behavior. Now, employees rarely sit in one place all day. We work differently today than we did even five years ago, and what we do day-to-day or even hour-to-hour can vary significantly. We need to give people options. If we did to the fashion industry what we have done to the workplace, we would all be walking around in a unisize red dress. And would you want to see each one of your coworkers prancing around in the same unisize red dress? Didn’t think so.
We need to give people options. By assessing a company’s DNA we can determine what type of workplace best fits the needs of their workers.
By assessing a company’s DNA—which includes corporate culture, work styles, worker demographics, organizational structure, regional influences, and the industry—we can determine what type of workplace best fits the needs of their workers. And the ever-expanding variety of needs accounts for the growing popularity of activity-based workplaces in U.S. In activity-based workplaces, we create task-oriented solutions that encourage movement and empower people to select the right space for the task at hand. It’s sort of like a house, where you have different spaces for different functions: a kitchen for cooking, a bathroom for bathing, a bedroom for sleeping.
2. Speaking of sitting, have you heard? It’s killing you.
Sitting stagnantly at a desk in a chair staring at a computer all day is killing people faster than whatever the wall across from them is off-gassing.
Novelist John Le Carre wrote, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” He no doubt had deeper meanings in mind, but from a pure productivity perspective, he was exactly right. Overly sedentary work environments create all kinds of unintended consequences, not least of which is decreased productivity. Getting people up and moving is not only essential for their own personal health and well-being, but studies show that active workers are happier, more engaged, and more productive.
3. What’s good for the Goog is not necessarily good for the gander.
We took the clickbait: Any headline that says “Google got it wrong” is bound to catch attention. But we don’t think that Google gets it wrong. We think Google gets it right—for Google. The folks who get it wrong are the ones who try to slap Google-like space and policies onto their own organization without understanding what it is that they really need.
Workplace policies and needs vary widely by organization, which means the right types of workspace will vary, too.
Take, for example, a recent survey by CoreNet Global, JLL, Cisco, and Teknion that asked corporate real estate execs what strategies they were employing to increase the efficiency of their company’s space utilization. Seventy-seven percent of responders said open workspaces with fewer offices. Unfortunately, unless that 77 percent’s previous space usage was grossly inefficient, going from offices to an open plan is usually just a shifting of space that doesn’t actually result in any meaningful reduction of square footage (especially if they’re trying to increase collaboration, too).
The companies that are saving big money on their real estate are the ones reducing the number of desks and altering the desk-to-employee ratio. Historically, if a company had 100 employees, they had 110 desks—some for visitors, interns, growth, and so on. But today, companies that are highly sales or consultative based want employees out in the field, meeting with clients. Many companies are realizing that the office is underutilized 40 to 60 percent of the time, so desk sharing is an option. For them, 100 employees might only require 60 desks, because employees are externally mobile. This is all a long way of saying that workplace policies and needs vary widely by organization, which means the right types of workspace will vary, too.
4. Noise is a problem – but in many cases it’s the lack of it that’s the issue.
Noise has always been one of the top complaints in the work environment, both open and closed. Many times acoustical distraction is an employee’s biggest gripe about open spaces, in which case: look into better acoustics. But sometimes the problem is that the office is too quiet. With quieter keyboards, more texting, and fewer people communicating via phone, there is no background noise or “hum” that muffles general office sounds. If you’ve ever done work at a Starbucks or a Panera, you know you can concentrate quite well in those noisy environments. The real problem is when you are in an environment where you can hear clearly what people are saying and privately you wonder, Are they talking about me? or, Is it a juicy tidbit about my coworker? Stuff like that is nearly impossible to ignore, and it’s is far more distracting than general background noise. Designing environments that allow for that hum to be created while balancing it with quiet zones affords people the opportunity to function at a higher level.
5. Repeat after us: Change. Management.
The way we work is changing, but too often our habits are not. If we want people to work differently then we need to help them make the transition. You can’t give someone who has always driven a tank a Porsche and expect smooth results. Change management, or “forward facilitation” (as I prefer to call it), is needed to help establish the new protocols, ways of working, and behaviors that we want to encourage or discourage. It takes time with employee engagement, management training, and collaboration with HR and IT to make any workplace change successful. Without it, people will revert back to their old habits and you won’t be able to move forward smoothly.
6. At the end of the day, we’re human.
Technology has enabled and influenced changes in the workplace but, until robots take over, we humans are still the ones that have to do the work. The most important factor to consider is that we’re designing spaces for people. Staffing is a business’ greatest expense, but it’s also its greatest asset. As companies drive to create more innovative and productive environments, they must be concerned with employee well-being and engagement. After all, a happy, healthy, empowered, and engaged employee will work harder for you and be more productive than an unhappy, disconnected, sickly, disgruntled one any day of the week.
Despite the tendency for sides to become polarized around workplace extremes, the real solution often lies in the middle, and here, the middle looks a lot like trusting the people we hire, giving them choices, and being flexible. Companies will flourish if, before making changes, they determine what’s right for their company culture and organizational DNA. We need to focus on people and on improving their experience to maximize their potential. That’s tapping into the real source of improving productivity and profits. After all, we’re not just designing the environment anymore: we’re designing the entire experience.
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Good riposte! And glad to see that Change Management is on the list. But the issue is more than (open) space (offices); Culture, HR and Technology all have to be coordinated so that the investments made in each complement and drive towards the desired outcomes.
As you mention, noise is a very big issue (when there is some) and carpets on the walls are not sufficient. The space must be designed with all forms of communication in mind. Headsets and earpieces might hide the incoming voices but outgoing voice doesn’t just go into the microphone. You may be able to concentrate in a noisy environment but you can’t participate in a conference call. And walking around holding you laptop or table so you can see the presentation at the same time as talking doesn’t work either.
Are there any real solutions to noise?
Have a look here, Kay linked to it in her article:
Reading phrases in the Washington Post piece ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/30/google-got-it-wrong-the-open-office-trend-is-destroying-the-workplace/ ) like “I was forced…”, “nothing was private…”, “…there was constant shuffling, yelling, and laughing, along with loud music piped through a PA system”, “…more vulnerable to illness” and my favorite “…Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn’t occupying billing hours” seem to point to a complete and utter lack of engagement, change management and transparency about this specific move moreso than the new environment. One doesn’t work without the other.
A move from a traditional office environment to a new “open plan” work style will fail without discussing DIRECTLY with those impacted the who, what, where, why as well as wants vs. needs, then offering options. A flexible design based on choice can easily accommodate adequate private areas for focused work, etiquette rules (and what to do when they’re not being followed), change champions from within , transparency on why decisions are being made… and most importantly DIRECT engagement and involvement with those going through the change.
If all that still doesn’t work, and the individual and their manager agree they can be more effective in role at home than in the office, so be it. That said, while it may be true for some, I’d hesitate to agree that the “…. model has proven to boost productivity, with employees working more hours and taking fewer breaks”. No workplace model works for all, whether it be “open plan” or work from home.
Several years’ ago, my company transitioned to a new office space with an open floor plan designed to enhance employee collaboration. The only problem was they failed to consider just who their employees collaborated with. With distributed project teams, most collaboration occurred with remote team members over the phone. In an effort to keep ambient conversations out of conference calls, employees put up make-shift paper and plastic extensions to the 4-foot partitions. When folks needed to collaborate, instead of visiting one another in one of their partitioned offices, they needed to find a quiet conference room. Since management anticipated that open offices would facilitate sufficient collaboration, conference rooms would not be needed. Only a few were designed into the space, placing them at a premium. Those fortunate enough to find conference rooms frequently had to move from one room to another carrying laptops, unplugging and reconnecting cables and power cords, and reestablishing conference calls until the day’s business was completed. A lot of time was spent finding and shifting meeting rooms. This is especially counterproductive when paired with the new time saving 30 minute meetings. Half of the meeting time was eaten up finding and reserving a room and then scheduling another meeting because the remaining time was not sufficient to complete work.
I am disappointed to see this trend gaining traction in other work locations.
Is an office with enough space to stow my purse, hang my coat, and dry an opened umbrella on a rainy day too much to ask for? Without partitions to block noise and visual distractions, I spend a lot of time planning where to gaze to avoid inviting unwanted conversations, keeping my earphones to maintain concentration, and my line on mute except to talk for conference calls. There is added annoyance when several of my neighbors are on the same conference call and I get to hear their comments twice: once directly when they speak and the second time delayed by a few seconds through my ear piece.
The workplace is no longer comfortable or conducive to getting work done. I can only hope this article and others like it are heard and heeded.
Space needs to be designed for what the employees are doing, not at the organizational level. The administrative assistant has different requirements than your principal software developers than your QA folks, than your managers, than your … when folks do different jobs, they have different requirements. That we all use a computer has rendered this fact somehow vacant from discussions about space.
The obsessive focus on being ‘fair’ doesn’t get much discussion, but it really should. We are adults at work, and we get it that the CEO gets a nicer office than the rest of us, we can probably figure out and understand that the 6 figure principal software designer gets a different space than the administrative assistant. Design for the work being done (maybe the admin needs MORE space than the software developer).
Collaboration is not a full time activity – stop designing principally for that! Collaboration space is important, but collaboration TIME is more important, and that isn’t a facilities issue (assuming there is space to do it).
Much work is not collaborative in nature, and cannot be collaborative. I cannot code software collaboratively. It is an internal mental activity and I need to be left alone and have quiet. I’m not unusual. I don’t think much creative work is collaborative when it comes to the execution of what is created. The planning and other activities are, but if you just do those activities you never end up with any product. None of us live in architectural renderings.
I stand to work. Standing over a colleague in the cube next to me is awful – looking down on him, every time he moves, scratches his nose, drinks a little water, picks up the phone, turns – all of these break my concentration. I’m sure he enjoys feeling someone is looking over him all day. Low cube walls aren’t about collaboration (you shouldn’t be yelling across the office space), and they had limited reasonableness when everyone sat, and standing is getting more popular all the time, for good reasons (health reason especially).
Working from home is not the answer – it solves some things, but at a tremendous cost. It is also an inappropriate use of and disrespect for employees and their non-work lives.
Get to know what your employees do – I use a huge white board – because I need to draw diagrams and flowcharts and I don’t plan to do these things – I’ll be coding something and wham! I need to start drawing. I don’t need to start trying to schedule a conference room, I need to start drawing – now! Even if there were a conference room right beside me with a white board and it was vacant – that isn’t what I need – I need to draw, now, and keep coding – moving to another space, taking my laptop, disconnecting cables, unplugging from my massive monitor, that isn’t going to actually help me do the task at hand. Obviously this will also break my flow and open me up to interactions with colleagues.
Stop trying to save money by making facilities cheaper and just take a couple of percent from the massive CEO pay or send a little less back to shareholders and then we can all do our work, maybe even making the company more money.
When I see other companies that treat their employees right (individual offices for all creative people), it honestly makes me consider leaving my own company ‘just’ for that ‘perk’. How much does it cost to replace employees?? $$$$$$$$$$$
It is time to bake the cost of employee replacement into the math of facilities.
[…] Google Didn’t Get it Wrong In 2008, companies across the nation were forced to dramatically cut costs and reduce space. The changes were billed by many as zeitgeist-y transitions to open plan offices that enable collaboration. But, in the rush to get things done … WorkDesign Magazine […]
Well done, Kay. Thanks for the thoughtful response.
The simple but unfortunate fact is that most open office design is driven by real estate cost savings, not a desire for better organizational culture or even worker productivity. This is of course ridiculous when the numbers are added up: even in New York City real estate costs hover around 8% of total operating costs, compared to 82% for human capital. (salaries and benefits).
this means that a tiny loss in productivity (say -2%) would easily trump a massive savings in real estate (say a +30% increase in efficiency).
Discussions with hundreds of corporate leaders on this topic have revealed the fundamental problem. Real estate decisions are typically not made by CEOs or other high level business visionaries. Real estate is typically seen as a cost center that must be “managed”. So it falls to the CFO and Facilities Management. Only the most enlightened (and very rare) Facilities Managers see real estate as a core service to growing the business and look for ways to ensure that the investment in real estate has a real and growing ROI.
Interestingly, Google is one of the few of hundreds of companies that I have consulted for over the years that indeed does have this enlightened view. They poor intensive resources, money, strategy, new ideas and, dare i say, love into their workplace. For this reason Google spends more on their workplace than almost any company I know. And the “open” part of it is a small piece of a much bigger picture. With dozens of space options to choose from, the Google workplace in not much like the degrading “benching” solution that Lindsey Kaufman describes. Googlers enjoy quiet huddle rooms, conference rooms, shared enclosed offices, multiple cafes, great food, games rooms, libraries and a host of other amenities as part of their basic work environment. Most importantly they have access to a dedicated service team who do nothing but go around and ensure that your workplace is working for you! (Can you imagine?!)
The problem in today’s “workplace strategy” discussion is that everyone wants the golden eggs without taking care of the goose. They want the space efficiency of open workplace layouts, without investing in the things that actually make them work (which tend to eat up the real estate savings). Bottom line: There are no free lunches when it comes to workplace expenditure!
Open offices are great for some organizations and disastrous for others. The most important question for us in workplace design, and our criteria for selecting clients, is: Do you see the workplace as an investment from which you expect a return? If the answer is “yes,” then we have a place to start. This client will be happy to spend what is necessary to maximize the return on their investment.
The only way to achieve this return on workplace investment is to create supportive and stimulating work environments that ensure workers can concentrate, collaborate, find each other, host each other and visitors, share the resources needed to do their jobs well and express the brand well. The only way to do all this is for designers to work closely with a cross-section of staff and leaders to truly understand how they work, their culture, and their vision for improvement (not some recycled office design fad). When this kind of collaboration happens we get surprising workplace magic. Sometimes it may even look like Google.
Hi Francisco: I’m doing a research about this topic. Could you please share with me your sources for this numbers? “even in New York City real estate costs hover around 8% of total operating costs, compared to 82% for human capital. (salaries and benefits)…. this means that a tiny loss in productivity (say -2%) would easily trump a massive savings in real estate (say a +30% increase in efficiency).”
I just realized that your name is Scott, I am sorry about calling you by your last name 😉
Did you ever finish your research on this topic Paloma? Interesting developments in the last few years to be sure!
Basically a 6-point exercise in clickbait point-missing.
1: ‘yoga’ — just not relevant, so shouldn’t be here unless the author is looking for a canard to distract us with.
2: I’m so, so tired of the ‘sitting is killing you’ dogma. STANDING would kill me. I can’t stand for more than 15 minutes without beginning to experience significant pain. Please don’t come back to me with some kind of misguided explanation of how I don’t know what I’m talking about — I’m actually pretty familiar with standing/walking desks and how they benefit or fail to benefit some people. Also, it’s irrelevant (since standing/sitting has nothing at all to do with whether an office is open-plan), and again, only has a place here as a distraction.
3: The point about organizational needs is well-taken, but there’s nothing in the WaPo piece that contradicts that, so again, this is mostly a distraction.
4: So the cure for noise is…more noise? Priceless.
5: “Change. Management.” Right, because we’re all little mice freaking out about where our cheese went, who all need to be kicked brutally into the 21st century for our own good. Google ‘Jay Chiat Open Office’ and tell me what you come up with.
6: This basically repeats .
Very well articulated, I’m glad you wrote this so that I don’t have to.
I know open offices work for some, I also know from direct experience (in multiple iterations) that the decision makers seldom have any insights on whether that’s the case for their organization or not.
The decision is usually driven by a cost target on a spreadsheet, and rationalized later with some aptly found info to support it.
Glad I’m not the only one to notice this article was garbage.
[…] interesting counter to that piece appeared in WorkDesign Magazine, in essence stating that ‘Google gets it right – for […]
There are a lot of per-canned phrases. Тhe only useful information in this not quite coherent response is this:
“Take, for example, a recent survey by CoreNet Global, JLL, Cisco, and Teknion that asked corporate real estate execs what strategies they were employing to increase the efficiency of their company’s space utilization. Seventy-seven percent of responders said open workspaces with fewer offices.”
It all boils down to “space utilization”. Translate this into: cost saving by cramming office workers.
I can’t wait until this trend finally falls out of favor. I’m a law librarian. In the past, I’ve worked in offices with doors opening out into the stacks. That’s a great system which means I can see where people are and greet them to see if they need help. Yet I can focus on complex tasks.
I now work in a room with several other people. There’s nothing like being constantly interrupted by distractions while on an “I needed it yesterday” deadline. In addition to multitasking, we constantly have to back track to where we were when we were distracted. Headphones to block out noise are not an option as that would make us unapproachable and we need to be approachable for when people need assistance.
I’m self conscious of my own behavior lest I distract others. And my co-workers are equally considerate, but when you put that many people close together, distraction is inevitable. Then there’s the food issue. If it’s a hectic day, which it usually is, we’re eating at our desks. I don’t want to disrupt other people with the smell, etc. of my food. Which is a little rough when we’re practically sitting in each other’s laps.
The lack of privacy makes me feel like I’m in grade school. I can’t so much as call the doctor’s office to make an appointment or talk to a doctor (which understandably must be done during office hours for non-urgent matters) without multiple people overhearing. I could try emailing or a chat feature, but then everyone can see my computer screen.
Can someone explain why so many desks are positioned so that the occupants’ backs are towards entrances? Sure supervisors can see what’s on the screen. But we can’t see people enter. Personally, I like to see right away when someone enters so I can greet them promptly and offer assistance. Instead of them having to get my attention because I can’t see them. It’s more professional and service oriented IMO.
Also, some people have life experiences where they don’t like having their back to an entrance and having people walk up behind them unseen. Not to mention, it’s a security issue for places open to the public and could be during a workplace attack for even private places.
I also find that as a director, not having an office makes it incredibly difficult for me to avoid spontaneous, ‘I need to talk to you!’ meetings that are both unscheduled and honestly un-needed. It would be one thing if I could close my door or have some sort of separation between the request and what I’m actively doing, but since I sit at an open table, it’s not an option.
I also have pretty horrendous ADHD (it’s medicated, but I still have it) and it makes it so that I only get things done before people come in, or after they all leave and then I’m at the office until 11pm.
While open offices that are -well planned and thought out- aren’t bad — I’ve been in several that had acoustics thought of, and private spaces, conferences rooms, phone calls, etc. — a majority of the start ups and small businesses think that they can put a bunch of tables in a room and they’re good. They’re not going to hire interior designers to think about the fact that it’s incredibly distracting, but instead they just say it’s good enough for Google, so they’ll do it, too.
So, in general, if you’re talking about an unplanned office, open office layouts are much easier to mess up than cubes. 🙁 Really wish I had even a cube, whether or not I have an office.
Most of the replies are right on point – the open office concept is a trend-following, cost-cutting, personal-autonomy-and-privacy-destroying one-size-fits-all measure that’s at best counterproductive and frequently disastrous.
Having been around long enough to remember when even many peons got private or minimally shared office space, it’s clear how productivity and morale plummet when people are shoehorned into distraction-prone spaces. In the name of fostering collaboration, you get an environment where in order to cut out the constant distractions, everyone is wearing earbuds and cocooning themselves into even more solitary aural and mental spaces. Almost everyone I know with the opportunity to occasionally telecommute, including me, reports being much more productive during the times they can work from home with minimal distraction.
Of course there are situations in which the concept can be effective, but they have to be carefully considered and well implemented. Right now, it’s just another example of commodifying and dehumanizing the worker in the name of saving $$.
“the open office concept is a trend-following, cost-cutting, personal-autonomy-and-privacy-destroying one-size-fits-all measure that’s at best counterproductive and frequently disastrous”
In some cases, sure. But read Kay’s piece again. Many open offices are dynamic places that are enjoyed by the occupants as they pursue productive work.
[…] and local business needs, and are constantly recalibrated based on feedback and learning’s. Google gets it right – for […]
Point #1 and #2 are very strong. It is unfortunate adjustable desks cease working once they are placed in a private office space. Manufacturers should really make models thar work outside of crammed “bullpens.”
The problem is that this article doesn’t refute the pretty overwhelming research that open offices are correlated with:
1. Greater stress
2. Decreased productivity
3. Decreased collaboration (counter-intuitive yes, but due to fear of being watched)
4. Increased sick days (correlated with amount of people in office)
5. Higher blood pressure
The other comments were very correct – this is click bait.
Good try. You’re still mostly wrong though.
1 & 2 . Neither of these points have to do with the open plan office. Sitting, standing, on a balance ball – it doesn’t matter. If you are open to constant noise, distraction, forced to hear a half-dozen conversations around you; it doesn’t matter what physical configuration your body is in. Knowledge workers need peace and quiet to get thought intensive tasks completed. I’m pretty sure everyone has figured out that you should stretch every so often; given we’ve all been berated about sedentary lifestyles and bad ergonomics for over a decade.
3. Offices have ‘flex space’ where people can come or go more frequently. OK. Great. ‘Workplaces vary as the work does’. Fine. The argument leveled against open-plan is that everyone, regardless of work requirement, is being shoved into one space; like most open-plan offices do. That is the very definition of ‘open-plan’.
You’re essentially saying ‘If you just made concessions for people who did different types of work, the open plan wouldn’t be an issue’. BINGO. If you realized that you were billing out engineers at $240/h, and it’s probably a good idea for them to have a quiet space to think and work. You’re not going to have them in an open-plan setting, that forces them to have to hear the highly collaborative sales team, for instance.
4. Lack of noise? You can control when there is too little noise. A fan. A humming light ballast. A white noise generator. Instrumental music. The list is nearly endless.
Even with ‘isolation’ headphones, YOU CANNOT CONTROL WHEN THERE IS TOO MUCH NOISE. And that is the issue.
In starbucks, you KNOW that people are not directing their conversation to you. In the office, you never know. That’s a pretty shallow observation though, that everyone is just so concerned about ‘a juicy tidbit’. What about ‘did they just say my name as in they needed me right now?’ Or ‘are they talking about previous work?’ ‘Are they signalling me to come over? Or hand talking?’ ‘Do they need my assistance?’ ‘If I don’t respond immediately, will that seem like I am inattentive?’ Those are the questions of an adult workplace, this isn’t high school.
5. Change management? Really? So someone who has never coded a line in their life is going to help usher a software developer into a new working paradigm, because… you know, it’s not that they need to concentrate in silence, “they just need someone to hold their hand and bring them into the ‘new world’ of work”.
Yeah, just take your laptop to a park and ‘boom’ you’re done. No, developer, you don’t need your 4 monitors and reference materials! Your work is just as superficial as everyone elses’. No, engineer – you CAN run autocad in a train station; it’ll be super productive – THIS is the new world of work. Most of these people already know they can do work from home. When they have to go into work, they sure as hell don’t want to be jammed in with the ’employee experience’ types who hardly have to generate content for their job.
It is PROVEN that people are more creative when there are less inputs coming from their environment, so the idea that we’re in a new world where ALL workers are collaborating ALL the time is downright untrue. Even the most collaborative workers spend most of their time independently working.
6. We are human. We do have different requirements. However, arguing that google didn’t get it wrong because they have a ‘getaway’ available for 5% of the staff to shuffle back and forth between is hardly an argument that their implementation of open-plan has solved the riddle.
MOST workers need MOSTLY quiet, MOST of the time; regardless of position (unless you’re reading from a script in a 3rd world call center, perhaps this is who this article is directed toward).
You are skirting around the real issues, and the reality of most open plan offices. You should probably run for office 😉
I got stopped reading this article around 10 times, just because I am in a open office space. And no, not because I was doing “non-work”. Saying that Open Office is as effective as offices is probably one of the less intelligent things I have heard this year, except for Trump.
I think the respondents are more accurate the author of the article. The article smacks of propaganda for companies that want to cut real estate costs (but likely not the TCO of getting work done).
I see more collaboration, creativity and, efficiency when people have offices. They can come to the office and work productively. Close the door if the need to. People can come and collaborate as needed. When put everyone together in the open, you get many people working from home so they can get work done. Then there is less collaboration.
>If you’ve ever done work at a Starbucks or a Panera, you know you can concentrate quite well in those noisy environments
I actually like taking my work to places like this specifically because I actually can concentrate better in those places than I can at home, as counter-intuitive as that might seem.
Thanks for sharing such an interesting and informative blog. It helps me a lot.