I’m a strong proponent of the open space office concept. I need this empowering feeling emerging from several people actively working at the same time in the same place on similar problems. How wonderful is that to hear someone being thrilled with some very good news about a complicated project! You can share his happiness.
And you get your daily news for free, just hearing what others are saying. And if you have something to share, or to ask, all that you need is just rise your head and look at your collegue.
There are two killers of this great office concept. When it is too loud and when it is too quiet.
In a too loud environment you cannot concentrate on your task. But this is not I personally find a very bad thing: if you really have to concentrate on something for a long time, it is a sign you’re doing something overcomplicated, which is a bad sign indeed. And for short concentration periods you can use the time in the early morning or in the late evening.
On the other hand, quietness builds a virtual wall in the office, preventing you asking or telling something just “at will”. Therefore, some companies play an ambient background music in their offices, preventing building the virtual wall.
But the thing I hate most is when people speak so quiet with each other, that I can still know they’re speaking, but cannot hear, what exactly is being told. I’d almost say it is malicious against all other office inhabitants. Okay, sometimes there are things that have to be said privately. In this case, using the meeting room could be an appropriate solution. But, generally, what’s the point of discussing something secretly in sight of a dozen collegues?