I think open plan workspaces are one of the stupidest "consultant-derived" arrangements of people yet conceived in the history of man. I'd bet my last dollar that for all the studies that say they enhance community and collaboration, there are a dozen that say they drive down morale and productivity. Also, I'd bet the real motivation behind packing people onto a floor like cord wood in a suburban back yard has nothing to do with anything other than cramming more workers into the same amount of space.
Some time, probably after I hang up my mac, there will be a backlash against open plan, and HR specialists, architects and the like will wail, "How could we have been so stupid?"
In any event, in my open plan space, I'm lucky enough to sit shoulder to shoulder with another Creative Director/writer who happens to be a talented and nice guy. We usually find 20 minutes to chat in the morning--about life--and another 20 or so to chat before we wrap up for the day.
Yesterday, my pal, I'll call him "Max," came in a bit late. He settled in and I asked something banal.
"Where's your computer?"
He took a pencil and a pad and said, "I'm going old school (or is it 'skool') today. No computer. Just me and a pad."
"Wow," I exclaimed. "A day without being besieged by email and IM. A day without the ever-present distraction of Facebook. That's fucking great. I don't think I could do it."
At that point, I left the floor for a few hours.
When I came back near the end of the day, there was Max, pounding away at his mac.
"What happened," I asked him.
"Fuck that shit," he said, "I have to work."