Like many others, Ethan Bernstein and Ben Waber question the value of the open office in this article in the HBR from 2019. It’s particularly relevant when several companies are nudging their employees to return to the office, ostensibly for ‘collaboration‘ or ‘valuable human interaction‘:
When employees do want to interact, they choose the channel: face-to-face, video conference, phone, social media, email, messaging, and so on. Someone initiating an exchange decides how long it should last and whether it should be synchronous (a meeting or a huddle) or asynchronous (a message or a post). The recipient of, say, an email, a Slack message, or a text decides whether to respond immediately, down the road, or never.
Interestingly, the article also has this nugget, months before the pandemic driven remote-working enforcement:
If team members need to interact to achieve project milestones on time, you don’t want them working remotely.