I like well-lit, open workspaces more than I dislike them. My space in the Google SF office for two and a half years was a semi-closed half-cubicle farm where natural light was somewhat blocked out, and that was depressing as heck. I loved the days where I'd go to HQ and be able to just feed off the energy of my team. More good happened from chance meetings that offset the possibility of distraction.

I do understand the need to tune out background noise. My first job after I graduated was in a true cubicle farm. My experience was that there'd be less random visual distraction, but people were absolutely more inclined to stop by "just to say hi". Not to mention, they wouldn't pick up on cues that you want to get back to work. I suppose that's what the break area is for. But isn't it easier to look around, see who is looking up, make eye contact and the "let's get coffee" sign?

I believe the issues with open workspaces and even closed workspaces causing productivity loss are almost all symptomatic of culture. Neither are going to be perfect, we just have to keep improving what we have and deal with what is out of our capability to change in the short term.

Bonus: I know the note about leaving exactly at 5:04pm is tongue in cheek, but that almost sounds like the author is a clock watcher type ...
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