There are so many different types of offices to work in, all with their own benefits. Some may enjoy working in a sea of cubicles, as it gives them privacy, while others may enjoy a slightly segmented office in different rooms.
Personally, I think there is literally nothing like an open office. Aside from the obvious perks of being able to see your coworkers, there are things that can be accomplished in an open office environment that just cannot be replicated anywhere else.
Closer Coworker Bonds:
My girlfriend works for a contract engineering company that spans multiple floors. Whilst this isn’t a cubicle setting, the floors are segmented into multiple offices, and has the same effect as everyone being in a cubicle.
When she needs to speak to her boss, she emails him; her direct supervisor usually communicates with her through chat. When she had her review for a raise, it was done completely over an inter-office conference call. Basically, the segmented office environment creates not only privacy, but also disconnection between employees. When I went with her to their annual Christmas party, I was surprised to learn that there were many people there that worked for her company that she had never met, nor heard of.
This sort of situation is impossible in an open office setting, as you’re usually staring at all of your coworkers all day. Every time that someone tells me they prefer their cubicle, I ask them how they get people together for lunch. In the time it takes you to write the email and get responses, I’ve stood up, and called in a loud voice “Who wants lunch?” and its problem solved.
Because of this interaction, you make friends with your coworkers much more quickly, which only results in a more pleasant work experience, and a higher quality of work. If I need to get someone to look at a piece of code, I can just pick up my laptop and go to a developer’s desk!
Faster Learning Curves:
Another benefit that is immediately apparent when working in an open office is the cut-down on learning time for new employees. Far too often in a cubicle office, a new hire only gets a few hours of a trainer’s time, and is left to his or her own devices as they try to learn their job.
If they have a question, they don’t really have any direction on whom to ask, so they have to send out an email and wait for a response. All of the time spent doing that is time that the company loses productivity.
In an open office, if there is an issue, or a question needs answered, all the intern has to do is look up and ask. There is literally everyone in the office available to help at anytime. That means more time can be used to work, and to get acquainted with the company culture!
In my office, as in most open offices, we have the staples necessary to keep programmers happy; beanbag chairs, free candy, and nerf guns. In the year and a half I have been at my company I’ve had approximately 1000 darts shot at my head.
Not only is a nerf war a great way to blow off steam, the constant barrage of foam bullets trains your reflexes well into matrix levels. I can hear a nerf slide rack, judge the distance, and dodge a bullet coming at my head without ever looking up from my computer. In fact, as I was writing the second paragraph of this article, a battle broke out, and I survived unscathed whilst maintaining my words per minute on the article.
Pete Wise is a White-Hat SEO Jedi working for Customer Paradigm; the leaders in US-Based Magento Development and Magento SEO. If you liked the article, there are plenty more bits of information on our blog, or contact us now for a quote! Follow Pete on Twitter: @MySEOHeadache