Update 1/27/2019. Since writing this post in late 2017, volumes of research and literature now point to massive negative impacts of open offices.

Geoffrey James at Inc wrote that open offices make the workplace more toxic, and went so far to say that they're the dummest management fad of all time. The British Psychological Society found that open offices drive down face-to-face interactions and increase use of email. The Royal Society even found that, "Negative psychological effects of open offices lead to less, not more, interaction between those within them, reducing collaboration and collective intelligence." Let the idea that open plan offices reduce your team's intelligence sink in for a moment.


Like almost everyone in Silicon Valley, I work in an open plan office. Not one single assigned office. Simply a big space filled with desks, circled by meeting rooms. It is jokingly called The Library, because everyone tiptoes around to avoid interruptions.

In this video from Vox, you'll discover how we went from the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright to spaces designed by soulless bean counters and their spreadsheets. Many of Wright's design considerations have subsequently been lost, or worse, corrupted.

So perhaps the issue isn't open plan, but poorly planned.

If you care about your office environment—and you should—take a few minutes to watch the vid. If you can avoid an environment where everyone works with headphones on, it'll be a big win for your company's growth.