This is Obvious in any Cursory Reading of Dilbert Cartoons

It turns out that the whole open office setup, ditching offices for cubicles, or worse open desks, is damaging to worker productivity:

Four years ago, Chris Nagele did what many other technology executives have done before — he moved his team into an open concept office.

His staff had been exclusively working from home, but he wanted everyone to be together, to bond and collaborate more easily. It quickly became clear, though, that Nagele had made a huge mistake. Everyone was distracted, productivity suffered and the nine employees were unhappy, not to mention Nagele himself.

I need to make a note here: American management sees employee misery as an independent good.

It is believed that if your employees are happy, the consultants believe that you are leaving money on the table.


Numerous companies have embraced the open office — about 70% of US offices are open concept — and by most accounts, very few have moved back into traditional spaces with offices and doors. But research that we’re 15% less productive, we have immense trouble concentrating and we’re twice as likely to get sick in open working spaces, has contributed to a growing backlash against open offices.

Since moving, Nagele himself has heard from others in technology who say they long for the closed office lifestyle. “Many people agree — they can’t stand the open office,” he says. “They never get anything done and have to do more work at home.”


What’s more, certain open spaces can negatively impact our memory. This is especially true for hotdesking, an extreme version of open plan working where people sit wherever they want in the work place, moving their equipment around with them.

This does not surprise me.  It has always been my experience.

Of course, it’s cheaper in the short run, and as I noted above, it makes workers miserable, so it is like catnip to so called business experts.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Cubes are old news. Been around fo-eva and personnel always looked forward getting out of the bosses sight.
    Which is where that 15% lack of productivity went, iows, manager hand-jobs whips won't reach over a cubes walls.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Boeing wichita went to cubicles in the early 90s..Loved it for the privacy, but you could still hear the poor sap going through a divorce and sobbing to his attorney on the other side. Not exactly sound proof. The night shift rivet pounders loved them because they could sneak out and hide in one on break…used to find greasy finger prints on the phone and steel metal working chips on the floors…

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