For the past year, I've repeatedly pointed out that, according to numerous scientific studies, employees hate open offices because they're noisy, visually distracting, and force people to socialize, regardless of what they're trying to accomplish.
Furthermore, there's no evidence whatsoever that open-plan offices (and the "collaboration" they're suppose to foster) increase productivity. Quite the contrary. Most people get far less done when they're crammed into the environmental equivalent of a hotel lobby.
Every time I point out these scientific facts, somebody attempts a riposte along the lines of "[Very successful company] has open-plan offices. So you, Geoffrey, are totally full of it."
Such commenters might be surprised to learn that the most successful company in the world, Apple, just spent $5 billion and six years building a centralized campus around the open-plan office concept. And guess what?
Apple employees hate it.
According to an article that appeared earlier this week at bizjournals.com,
High-level Apple staffers are unsatisfied with the company's open floor plan -- which has many company engineers working at long tables with co-workers, instead of in cubicles or offices [and] some employees have reportedly insisted on their own space outside of the main spaceship-style building.
According to Bloomberg, Apple's internet software team is refusing to move from the company's old headquarters because the work environment at the new headquarters is so disliked:
The new campus will include bench seating, long work tables, and open cubicle spaces, potentially irking employees used to quiet office environments.
Gee, ya think?
Apple, of course, is justifying the open plan on the grounds that it will increase "collaboration," a wildly popular management fad that's consistently proved to decrease productivity.
As is always the case in these ridiculous open-plan office schemes, the company's top management will have private offices, thereby proving (in a "who ya gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes" way) that Tim Cook and his management team are hypocrites.
Note: I reached out to Apple PR to comment on these reports of dissatisfaction but have not heard back. If I get a response, I will update this column.