I’m horrified by the lack of privacy in Facebook the application. That’s why I built nderground. The Facebook work environment in the photo in this post is almost as horrifying. It looks like some modern version of a sweatshop. Facebook didn’t even spend the money on a ceiling to cover the insulation.
I think that its important to differentiate between what a start-up has to do and what a company with financial resources chooses to do.
A well run start-up will do what ever is reasonable to conserve cash. Like the old garage space mentioned in this post, an early stage start-up will probably have everyone working in the same space, because money is tight. This is something that they have to do, not something they choose to do.
If the start-up succeeds and there is money to spend on office space then forcing everyone into an open office is a travesty.
I’ve worked with some software development groups that prefer to work in a small open office space (e.g., an open space for the group). Other people, if given the choice, would work in offices with a door.
An office with a door is what I personally prefer. I leave my door ajar so people know I’m in and feel like they can interrupt me. The closed door allows me to focus on what I’m doing. The space around me is generally pretty quiet and I don’t have to ware noise-canceling ear phones (I save those for long airplane trips).
If the money is available to rent sufficient space, I believe that the best environment is one where people have a choice of whether to work in shared space rooms or in individual offices.