Rob Fahrni

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Open office plans suck

Cal Newport

Back in 2016, I reported on a rumor that was circulating about employee dissatisfaction at Meta (then, Facebook). Developers, it seemed, were unhappy with the company’s trendy, but also unbearably noisy and distracting, 8-acre open office floor plan.

Watch out! It's a blog fly!Open floor plans are a trend I’d love to see go away. The open concept is great for homes but not for business. Sure, it looks really great! All that open space, busy employees flitting about, doing the work of the business like a bunch of busy bees. But like a bunch of busy bees it causes a very distracting hum in the area. When I started at WillowTree I absolutely hated our open space. Too darned noisy to find flow — something WillowTree holds in high regard — because I need quiet to think and code. Quiet for me became Tool cranked to eleven in my headphones as I tried to ignore all the movement around me. 😂

Cubicles? In many ways those are worse than an open floor space. They oppressive in their own way. A tiny space to call your own, only everyone can see right inside it and your back is turned to any traffic passing by or your buddy tapping you on the shoulder making you jump in fright. No thank you.

Offices — in my opinion — are the one true answer. Microsoft figured this out a long time ago and that caused other software companies to model their environment the same way. A trend, just like open office spaces. At Visio I had an office, it was glorious. I could configure it the way I wanted and I was able to pick an inside office since I really enjoyed my workspace to be dark.🍄

For me, one of the great things to fall out of the pandemic was the formation of a 100% remote team at WillowTree. Working from home has been glorious. I have complete control over my workspace. Sure, it’s a small area in the basement but it’s quiet and setup just the way I want. I do miss hanging out with my coworkers, doing lunch, grabbing a coffee, or taking a walk on the mall during a 1:1, but I really enjoy the flexibility of being able to have coffee with my wife or doing the dishes at lunch.

Open office plans are the devil. Banish them. 🤣