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Walls and a Door Allow "a Quiet Place to Think"



(p. B6) The lofty building Jordan Hamad moved his tech-advisory firm into four years ago had the trappings of a startup idyll: open floor plan, polished concrete floors, custom-built communal tables.

Soon, the 33-year-old founder of Chairseven says he craved something else: walls and a door.


. . .


Now as he moves the company from Portland, Ore., to New York, Mr. Hamad has joined a cadre of bosses chucking the egalitarianism of working alongside their employees for the old-fashioned private office. Their open-office revolt, they say, is less about reclaiming the corner office than about needing a quiet place to think.

"People will say it's so cool to have the CEO right next to you, but at the end of the day your team sometimes needs their space and you need yours," says Mr. Hamad, who currently leases a private office for himself and co-working space for other staff. Other senior team members will soon get private office space, too, he says.


. . .


In a review of more than 100 studies of work environments, British researchers found that despite improving communication in some instances, open-office spaces hurt workers' motivation and ability to focus.


. . .


"When you're in a territory that's clearly yours, you perform better," says Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist and principal at La Grange Park, Ill.-based consulting firm Design With Science.


. . .


Open offices are so popular among tech companies that when CircleCI's founders moved the software-testing startup from an open space in San Francisco to one with 25 closed offices in 2014, it paid half the market rental rate, says co-founder Paul Biggar. In Silicon Valley, many people are "playing startup," he says, emulating the open spaces of tech giants such as Google Inc.

In reality, he says, engineers need quiet places to concentrate--and so does he. "I love the private office," he says.



For the full commentary, see:

Vanessa Fuhrmans. "Bosses Say they Want Their Offices Back." The Wall Street Journal (Tues., May 23, 2017): B6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date May 22, 2017, and has the title "CEOs Want Their Offices Back." The following sentence, quoted above, appears in the online, but not the print, version of the article: "Other senior team members will soon get private office space, too, he says.")






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