Open office must be defined. It is not just the presence of doors and wall, cube walls, or no walls.
If I am in an shared space with people working either directly on my project, or doing the same task that I am: then there is benefit to collaboration.
If the grouping of people is random then the other people are just a noise source. The only thing we have in common is trivial topics, so the only interaction we have is nonproductive.
Unfortunately companies have not been willing to maintain cohesion, and they devolve into a random assortment over time.
In the Unites States the GSA is pushing an office of the future.
The long corridors, closed-door offices and high cubicles that have always defined the culture of the federal workplace have given way to open spaces filled with industrial white desks that most employees must now reserve like hotel rooms.
Employees badge in at the lobby turnstile so their bosses know where they are. They touch down at desks they must leave without a trace of clutter if they want to avoid a scolding. “Teaming Rooms” are “leveraged” for meetings, and attendees are electronically logged in by a “room wizard” on the wall outside.
It is part of a long debate over how employers can best deploy their workers in the digital era. This year, Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer banned her employees from working at home because she said they were goofing off.
But Tangherlini is betting that his employees will get more done if they are at home — or anywhere outside the office, for that matter — more often. He wants them
to instant-message, Google-chat,
e-mail and Internet-call their way through the workday on laptops and smartphones. He is betting that when they do venture into the office, they will work together better and more creatively if closed doors and high cubicles don’t get in the way.
Yes the government is designing office space that employees will hate so much they will work from home. Because the arrangement of space will be different everyday, the only way to guarantee collaboration is via electronic means. And if you are going that route you might as well be at home.