Personally, I’m pro-focus, I like to avoid distractions so I can complete my tasks in a better way, with my music and under my own pace. I prefer to avoid distractions, I tend to lost focus quickly. At 4geeks we have been working with both of them, cubicles and open office (this one our current).
There are opinions, and a lot, about what is better. I think there is no science that can predict that. it depends totally on the team and company culture. It depends on people way to work, and deal with distractions.
This is where most people can argue as the best or worse condition of having or not open office. For example, at open office if someone start speaking about their perfect vacation to someone, it turns out that this conversation will actually be for the rest of the team, due the space. So, to avoid those kind of distractions and keep productivity, we can save the topic for lunch, or people that doesn’t want to hear about that can perfectly use their headphones and to listen their favorite music.
What I want to say is that depends on every person to choose if they want to stop momentum or continuing it. It’s difficult, but doable. It’s about team culture. When someone requests a little silence, everyone will put volumen down or continue the conversation in the physical or virtual water-cooler. It’s an small society 🙂
It goes alongside productivity. But distractions are all around us. We do remote work of course, we love work from anywhere sometimes. So, that means, we can be working at the beach (why not), within the beach comes lots of distractions or activities to do, but we should still be able to continue our work and don’t loose the path. Also, if we work from a coffee show or even our home.
If you can really get concentrated in this lousy world, there is no space for us to do that. We are the owner of how we want to get affected. Even though, we are social animals, a little of talk or distractions are really not big deal. We don’t want to burn out ourselves, we need some space to socialize, open offices are excellent for that.
Using cubicles, most people will say distractions are reduced. Not for me. Since you have more privacy, you can perfectly spend time watching that Netflix show you miss last night, am I right ? Well, yes and no. Again, depends in people and how they do their work. You can be at open office or cubicles, that you will haves yes or yes distractions. It depends on how you deal with them.
Open office will reduce the amount of physical space people has, that’s true. But why do you need big space if you are just spending two days maximum at the office ? I love balance, and for me that’s balance. Some day you can have the space you are 100% in control with, other day you are the coffee shop where there is no such control over environment, but at the office is 50%, you can customized your space with what actual you need (headphones, water, computer, any other small thing), besides that why do we need to put all our Lego collection ? There is no reason for that.
With cubicles we can customize a little more our space, to feel more comfortable, more like home. That’s good. But for me this is not essential to do an amazing job.
Cubicles are just excellent to deal with privacy. You can control more your environment and it will create a virtual barrier for people to come over you. It’s better to tell people don’t bother you. It’s easy to be in a cubicle with headphone, so you can ignore easily to someone. In an open office that is more difficult, people will tend to just come to your spot and start talking to you.
This is vital for teams, bounding is essential to deliver amazing work. We know that. We go with virtual and face to face communication. We need to train ourselves to determine how is the best way to contact someone, slack channel may be slower, so we know that we can send a message to someone asking if the person is available for a quick chat. I love that workflow because, it gives you the ability, to handle you time, if you are focus, you can ask talk at your convenience.
So, it doesn’t depend on the office physical space, depends on teams culture and behaviour.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, company culture is something that has to go through office boundaries. If the company is not living and exhaling their culture, no matter if you go with open or cubicles, your culture will not impact.
I will say that our culture has been distributed better since we move ourselves to open office.
I tend to prefer open office. I like the interaction we can get with it. How te team can get together easily. Also, it helps us on improving our empathy with others and our collaboration.
t the end it doesn’t really matter what option you company want to go with. It depends on the people on your company culture. This is busy world, it depends on us how we interact with all distractions. If you feel that teams productivity is not optimal, maybe your physical office is not the problem, everything starts on changing small behaviors, and find the right talent.