Are open-office concepts too open?

So, I visited the Hawaiian Airlines corporate office last week to interview someone working in Employee/Internal Communications. This was my first time being there and immediately I noticed their open-office model. Initially I thought it was cool because this style of workplace is very silicon valley and everything appeared organized and modern. The woman I interviewed was in favor of the open space and even the CEO did not have an enclosed office. She felt it made her job a little easier because employee’s were more approachable and connected.

On the other hand, I read an article here:

Just from the title you can tell that Lindsay Kaufman is obviously not a fan of the open-office model. Her reasons are because of factors such as distractions, lack of privacy, and increase in vulnerability to illnesses. I can totally understand where she’s coming from, there needs to be some privacy in the workplace and who wants to be surrounded by germs? It’s like elementary school all over again. However, she ends her article by saying that a successful open-office model should have a balance between open-space and some private offices that are not “fishbowls”. Also, help decrease noisey distractions by limiting interaction at certain times and limiting music.

I do agree that there needs to be balance and while at Hawaiian Airlines I found that they were accomplishing what Kaufman was suggesting. At Hawaiian, it was not noisey/routy or distracting. They have white noise to counteract people’s voices and little lights attached to their desks that are either green or red to display whether they are available to be approached. In their case, I think open-offices do lead to more open communication.

What do you think? Open-office or closed individual spaces?

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