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As a counterpoint, my current workplace has an open office plan with about 20 people working in the same space, and talking is rarely a distraction. Of course everyone in that space is product-focused in some way (not sales or HR), so that probably makes a difference.
Viva la workingfromhome!
Amusing how the open plan movement seems to have its ups and downs. When we moved into the new Fog Creek office the word on the internet was that we were all morons for wasting so much money when a few bean bag chairs would have made us twice as productive.
What I did learn, and one mistake that was made, is that interior sliding doors don’t seal very well. They leak a lot of noise, and tend to rattle on top of that. Form to function ratio is very high.
Big advantage is that open offices are cheap and ‘friendly’. You just need one desk per person. No need for dedicated offices and extended furniture. Or things like cubicles.
People who spend all their time coordinating (sales, HR, recruiting, etc) should have their own dedicated spaces. It doesn’t really make sense to mix people together, right? I gotta say, the recruiting lady at my workplace was distracting, even behind a wall.