I have been working as a software developer on few places with various office-layout from a small office for 8 people and few rooms nearby to a huge rectangle office with a grid system of tables and chairs with 15 rows and 6-8 places in the each one.

I always try to avoid to work at an openspace office so I always ask to see the workplace and the team I would be working with in the future. If I see the tightly puzzled grid of units with width smaller than one meter for a worker, I am about to escape soon.

Sometimes I am confused about what I can understand as an open space.

  • I have been working in the not-too-large office with 20 people including myself - is it an open space? (I think not yet)
  • I have been working with the same amount of people in the quite large corner of the L-shaped area (I didn't see people at the other corner, but I heard them sometimes) - is it an open space? (I think it is)

Surprisingly, I fell more comfortable in the first one, where I had a smaller table (maybe because of the fresh air could flow easily).

My question is whether does exist the edge when I can say "Yes, this is an open space" or "No, this is not an open space yet" based on a lot of factors like the number of co-workers sharing the common area, the size of the area and the size of the tables? Or is this decision, on the other hand, based on the subjective feeling only?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Dukeling, bharal, DarkCygnus, paparazzo Feb 21 '18 at 10:49

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Would it matter? Whether or not you call it an open space does not change how it feels to work in that area. – Erik Feb 20 '18 at 14:40
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    The only certainty about an open space office is that the person responsible for making it open space has their own private office. – Laconic Droid Feb 20 '18 at 15:39
  • I'm not sure about this... this is just opinion. Seems more appropriate for a philosophy question. vtc – bharal Feb 20 '18 at 16:23
  • Open office layout is not a function of number of people, size of desk or square footage of the area. – cdkMoose Feb 20 '18 at 17:57
  • Asking about definitions probably won't get you the information you actually need, because (demonstrably) people's interpretations vary. Is your question actually how you can filter out these jobs -- what keywords or descriptions to listen for? – Monica Cellio Feb 20 '18 at 20:30

Are there cubes and walls? If yes, then it is not an Open Space.

Open Space is getting rid of cubes and walls:

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  • Yuck. I don't want to see what my neighbor does when they are sitting at the keyboard. – Mister Positive Feb 20 '18 at 17:59
  • Your second image shows doors, which implies individual office spaces with full height walls separating workspaces. I would consider cubes as a form of open space layout - although, there are three styles here - you can see over the cube wall when seated; or when standing; or there is a separator which is not full height. You still get some of the open space disadvantages in cube layouts - visual/audio distraction – HorusKol Feb 20 '18 at 20:30
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    @MisterPositive your comment implies that they might be doing something you wouldn't want to see them do while they are at work. Perhaps it's a cultural difference but when I'm in a professional setting I expect people to behave professionally... – Cronax Feb 21 '18 at 8:59
  • @Cronax People sneeze, cough, eat, and so on at their desk. I don't need the illusion that just because I can see them they are working harder or smarter somehow. The office environment does not make that happen, the people do. – Mister Positive Feb 21 '18 at 12:22

An open space is not just about removing walls, it's also about changing the culture of the employees to collaborate more as a team, and not necessarily just person-to-person conversations in a box.

Ideally, if you are in an open space, you are co-located with other members of your immediate team. As part of this co-location, open space, you are free to express ideas among team members so that everyone can benefit from hearing the conversation, even if they are not directly in on it.

I love when I see open spaces work, Tom and Suzie are talking, and Jim is silently listening. Jim hears something incorrect and can immediately speak up, rather than finding out days/weeks later that something isn't being done correctly.

  • You can always set a public/private conversation/meeting whether you are in cubes or open space. To answer OPs question, yes there is an edge difference. Your answer is more like an opinion based answer now – Sandra K Feb 20 '18 at 17:35

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