Apple's Open Office

Managers and bean counters tell themselves all sorts of pretty lies to justify open office plans. It will increase collaboration, they say. Employees will know what the rest of the team is doing and be better able to solve problems, they think. Yet, somehow, despite all the putative benefits, these managers virtually never think it’s a good idea for them. That’s because deep down they know it’s really about being cheaper and they won’t have to endure it so why not?

Sadly, Apple has joined the list of companies that should know better but don’t. Their new headquarters is going to feature open office space for engineers, developers, and other employees. The employees aren’t happy. Some of those employees say they are planning to or considering leaving the company. It’s those engineers and developers that have made Apple the success it is. Inflicting the horror of an open office on them seems like an ungrateful—and ultimately self-destructive—thing to do.

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  • In the old days your turned the biggest conference room into an open office floor plan and that worked great. Now you turn the smallest conference room into a closed office floor plan and that doesn't exactly work as well. Most of my neighbors crank very loud music through their headphones all day just to get some "peace and quiet" so they can do their job.

    • jcs

      Thirty years ago, Demarco and Lister already knew about "the flow" and how easily is was interrupted and how devastating that was to programmer productivity. If you want productive programmers you simply can't put them in a bull pen where everyone's chattering away. There's a reason for those headphones. I not sure how effective they are in the end though.

      • I use 3M sound protecting "ear muffs" to make it quieter. However, people constantly walking around is noticeable.

        • jcs

          You're working in a open office? I'm sorry. I guess I'll have to be nicer to you from now on.