Who knew? It turns out, though, that besides the noise and risk of contagion, open offices are also bad for your memory. Research shows that we retain more information when we sit in one spot. That’s because ideas and details become associated with surrounding and often ideas and details cannot be recalled outside of those surroundings.
There’s no longer any excuse for open offices. The research is clear: they’re harmful to productivity, the health and well being of employees, and even communication between them (the most often cited “advantage” of open offices). My suspicion is that they’ve now become a fad that everyone follows because the other guys do. “The startup next door has an open office and so does Facebook; we better have one too.” Any amount of checking into the current research on the would show any manager, no matter how pointy his hair, that they’re a bad idea.
On a related issue, David Tate takes a poleaxe to the usual reasons offered for why you can’t work from home. Again, it’s mostly superstition and ignorance but it’s depressingly wide spread.