Recently, there's been increased debate surrounding the open office concept and its effect on productivity. Various articles and studies have pointed out that it may not be as productive a work
environment as old-school offices with walls and doors. Some posit that the concept fosters the creative spirit. Others posit that the concept fosters distraction and anxiety.
While many agencies have gone open concept, one is publicly proclaiming its love for the concept in an open letter published in Ad Age. Penned by SS+K Partner and Chief Creative Officer Bobby Hershfield, the letter reads like a "facts be damned" opinion piece which, truth be told, is perhaps all well and good. After all, what works for some, doesn't work for others.
In the letter, Hershfield thumbs his nose at stats highlighting the downside of the open office concept and touts the concept's benefits as he sees them. He writes: “We don't rely on email so much. We talk. Email follows up a conversation instead of initiating one, or even worse, substituting for one. We don't just share ideas. We wad them up and toss them at each other, blurt them out, interrupt and criticize and applaud them. We talk more. Walk around. Offer suggestions enroute to the bathroom. We don't hide in our offices. We don't hide behind walls. We are exposed and sometimes that fear puts pressure on us to be better in every aspect of our job."
He finishes, writing: "We are happier. We are less complacent. Less bored. We are stimulated. And we are getting to know one another better, which makes a culture that really is only about people and [making] ideas stronger."
There never will be an answer to this conundrum mostly because everyone has a different work style. Some love the thrill of constant interaction and lobbing ideas back and forth while eating their lunch and walking on their standing treadmill desk. Others love to cocoon themselves and let prior interactions gestate into well-formed ideas which are then shared to a larger group. To each their own, I guess.