Susan Cain argues that the lack of privacy and freedom from interruption in modern offices might not be the best way for those office employees to be creative…particularly for introverts.
The New Groupthink has overtaken our workplaces, our schools and our religious institutions. Anyone who has ever needed noise-canceling headphones in her own office or marked an online calendar with a fake meeting in order to escape yet another real one knows what I’m talking about. Virtually all American workers now spend time on teams and some 70 percent inhabit open plan offices, in which no one has “a room of one’s own.” During the last decades, the average amount of space allotted to each employee shrank 300 square feet, from 500 square feet in the 1970s to 200 square feet in 2010.
The new offices of Foursquare and Buzzfeed (where I work from) are a perfect example of the New Groupthink Cain refers to….rows and rows of people sitting next to each other in open spaces. Much of this is because of NYC’s insane rental market, but Fog Creek’s offices are a nice counterexample:
Every developer, tester, and program manager is in a private office; all except two have direct windows to the outside (the two that don’t get plenty of daylight through two glass walls).