Offices are making a comeback. Halle-freakin-lujah! Another dumb management fad bites the dust. Well, not quite yet, but it seems that executives and business leaders are finally waking up to the realization that, generally speaking, open floor plans suck.

Cubicles aren’t much better, but depending on how high the walls are, at least they provide some modicum of privacy. It also helps if the floors are carpeted and the walls made to dampen sound somewhat.

Frankly, I’ve never understood the open space megatrend, and I’ve certainly never understood why executives would willingly give up their doors and walls. Everyone needs a little privacy to conduct business, not to mention peace and quiet to concentrate. That’s just human nature.

Open floorplans are supposed to be so collaborative, but if that’s the case, then why does everyone wear headphones? Nobody should have to cover their ears – or squat in conference rooms, leave the building or work at home, for that matter – just so they can think and focus. That’s ridiculous.

It’s no coincidence that the last company I worked for before going on my own was a beehive of cubicles. Everyone had a cubicle, even the CEO. It was horrible, especially for a raucous, non-PC guy like me who likes to goof around and tell the occasional off-color joke. And yes, when I’m excited or pissed off, I sometimes raise my voice. Horrors.

Executives and business leaders should just be honest with themselves and their employees and call open floor plans what they are: cheap. Space, walls, doors and windows are expensive. If expense is not a consideration, they’re either nuts or fad-followers who don’t have the guts to buck the status quo. And that makes them lousy leaders. That’s all there is to it.

P.S. For those within earshot of some of my infamous tirades back in the day, hope you’re over your PTSD by now.

  • Tom

    Amen, Brother! I could write a book on the subject but you’ve distilled it very well.

  • Tom

    One more thing: How did a non-PC person like you not only survive but thrive in Silicon Valley? When visiting relatives there (Los Gatos) I fell like an alien.

    • Steve Tobak

      It hasn’t always been easy, but what can I say, I am what I am. If folks don’t like it, they can kiss my fuzzy ass. 🙂

      BTW, you’re right about Los Gatos.

  • Anurodh Sharma

    Steve : You talk of privacy in office……. In India Owners not only have open and low border cubicles but also CCTV surveillance to make sure everything is public!!!