work environment


Do you find an open office environment more, or less, conducive to enabling focused thought? Given the choice, which one would you prefer?

Workforce Planning
Work Environment
Thinking Outside The Box
Productivity Improvement
Robert Faller
3 months ago

8 answers


Open work environment is good if you have -

  1. Less people in the space say 10-15
  2. All the people belong to same project or team
  3. Meetings areas are separate then work space.

This is a very popular these days in agile and digital acceleration kind of work environment, If above 3 factors are met, I have no issues against open work environment.

Hitesh Mathpal
3 months ago
Agreed - Dr. David E. 3 months ago

An open office environment should still have certain zones that are dedicated for different types of work or interaction. For instance

  • Quiet zones: no talking, no calls
  • Talking zones: take calls here, meet colleagues here
  • Creative Zones: white boards, high tables etc. Whatever generates creativity

Then these spaces can be very effective, and cheaper to maintain. To me, the advantage of working in such a space is that sound / conversations in bulk are easier to block than individual noises you may be exposed to in your secluded environment.

Bart Groenewoud
3 months ago
It is generational. - Dr. David E. 3 months ago
We've gone from cubicles - to open space - and now the M trend is back to cubicals - Dr. David E. 3 months ago
True - Bart 3 months ago
I know - - Dr. David E. 3 months ago
AKA: "safe space" - Dr. David E. 3 months ago
yes, taht is what triggered my question - I have seen that open environments are quickly going into disfavor. Things always seem to go in circles, don't they? - Robert 3 months ago
YEP - Why I never get concerned about cultural changes - Dr. David E. 3 months ago

It's more about discipline than environment. If one can't focus then cubicle or open plan won't make much difference.

David Cottrell
3 months ago
RobertFThanks, David - one question. One added question - have you worked in both environments? Thanks! - Robert 3 months ago
Yes. There are pros and cons to both. I now work in splendid isolation at my home office. PJs standard business attire! - David 3 months ago
Sounds perfect! - Robert 3 months ago
Just do the job hired for! - Dr. David E. 3 months ago

Robert - I've worked in both open office layout and in a private office. In my line of work (CHRO), the conversations I have routinely require privacy (benefits, compensation, employee or manager issues) which necessitate me in a private space. I find it more efficient to work in an office rather than slog back and forth between cubicle and conference room. Additionally, I have sequestered the HR team so that all have private space when speaking to employees.

The open office layout is increasingly being challenged as disruptive, not accommodating to those who need more privacy or quiet for their work and those more introverted. I find a combination of open, collaboration space coupled with work space that affords some degree of privacy to be optimal.

Jeanette K. Winters
3 months ago
OK: so it depends? - Dr. David E. 3 months ago
Leading edge design thinkers will tell us that collaboration space (not open office working) is the way to go. I am a realist and know that money usually drives these decisions/choices. If you can afford it, go cubicle or office coupled with space which encourages collaboration. - Jeanette K. 3 months ago
Good hybrid thoughts and solutions - Dr. David E. 3 months ago

I worked in a “Google-like” open office in Silicon Valley. Even if you can focus in this environment, there are a lot of people who don’t want to hear your conversation with co-workers. I found it to be disruptive and lead to a lack of diversity in thought by stifling open conversation.

Greg Wyman
3 months ago

Now companies are moving to open space with not assigned desks. It is important to have just one team per area but some meeting rooms available in case of confidential meeting or phone call. It can work, it cannot, it is based on matter of respect.

Paolo Beffagnotti
3 months ago

Medical Office Work Environment
As a doctor, I am aware that most every doctor in private practice knows the importance of their office administrator, or practice manager, to the operations, work environment  and success of the practice.

Another important person is the receptionist because, although patients may love you, they will consider your entire enterprise “rude” if not treated sincerely and with respect. If the office is large, then the secretary or scheduling employee who answers the phone is just as important as your receptionist.

In small offices, the receptionist and scheduling person often play dual roles at the front office or in cubicles, and thus making the hiring and other decision even more critical. The receptionist needs to be top-notch in customer service and hiring someone with previous experience dealing with patients/customers might be the best approach. These front-line staff members directly bear the brunt of patients’ frustration and anger when the schedule is too tight to allow same-day service, or when they are told the laboratory results are not available, etc.

So, you need to be sure to incent them ion an open work environment, reward them, and tell them when they do a good job; or how to improve performance.

Too often the closed off or cubicled front desk staff is overlooked for extra training or gets smaller bonuses than the nursing staff or office manager because their pay is usually less. This may be a mistake. Treat them well and you’ll have less staff turn-over and your patients will appreciate the continuity of regular staff in your office.

Any thoughts?



Dr. David E. M
3 months ago

In addition to the constant murmur of voices in an open office space, many companies play music into the room. This adds a second level of noise that one's brain has to filter out.

Studies by Harvard Business School professor Ethan Bernstein show that people wear/buy noise cancelling headphones so they actually interact less than they would if they had cubicles. Also, the stress levels increase dramatically because people feel they are being observed all the time.

Ellen Raim
3 months ago

Have some input?