Walls or no walls? That is the question, at least when it comes to offices. The current trend in home design is fewer walls and more of an open floor plan. But in a workspace, opinions vary.
Open office plans have become almost ubiquitous, largely due to the explosive growth of the tech sector since the 1990s. But communal offices have actually been around since the 18th Century, instituted initially for their cost-saving benefits. The 21st Century reasoning for shared workspaces is that they encourage greater interaction and collaboration among associates. That may be true to some extent but, eventually, the work needs to be done and too much interaction can get in the way. That's why so many people in open offices wear earbuds or headphones.
When I'm not in the K104.7 studio, I work in an office cubicle, which isn't bad. The three "walls" do provide some sense of having boundaries and my own space. However, I sit facing into the cubicle, so other people can sneak up on me from behind. I'd prefer to see them coming. Plus, I sit next to a copier so I feel a bit like Rob Schneider in the old Saturday Night Live sketch: "Mel. Melany. The Melanator. Makin' copies. Meeeel."
Many of my co-workers have their own offices with four walls and a door. They seem to interact and collaborate with others just as much as, if not more than, our digital content producers in their open office space. But having the option of closing one's door can eliminate most distractions and allow for maximum productivity.
Perhaps an open office plan is not the best choice after all. So how and why did shared workspaces become the norm? This video provides some answers: