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?

  • 4
    Would it matter? Whether or not you call it an open space does not change how it feels to work in that area.
    – Erik
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 14:40
  • 4
    The only certainty about an open space office is that the person responsible for making it open space has their own private office. Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 15:39
  • I'm not sure about this... this is just opinion. Seems more appropriate for a philosophy question. vtc
    – bharal
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 16:23
  • Open office layout is not a function of number of people, size of desk or square footage of the area.
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 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? Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 20:30

2 Answers 2


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

Open Space is getting rid of cubes and walls:

enter image description here

  • Yuck. I don't want to see what my neighbor does when they are sitting at the keyboard.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 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
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 20:30
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 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.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 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
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 17:35

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