Of time and space
As a shy kid in grade school, I never liked having others looking over my shoulder. In a Batman-like hunch, I would shelter my thoughts from the world until it was ready. When the open-planned office evolution overtook the workplace, it was history repeating all over again.
I would gravitate towards the ends or have my back to the wall – being caught in the middle or next to a walkway was a trigger to finding another job. Strangely, there were those who loved the spotlight and actively sought it.
I've come to realise it actually benefits some professions. Those who are reactive or feed off other people's energies find the communal configurations empowering. But for anyone who requires contemplation, introspection or deep thought, it's a productivity killer.
With the changing standards to cultural workplace norms, headphones have allowed individuals to create their own space within the chaos, a bubble of silence or customised ambience away from the office politicking and gossip.
Google has awoken to this fact and provide a variety of workspace types and environments, a biome to suit every job description and personality.
This is a lesson that collaboration spaces such as startup hubs need to learn. There are many work styles, approaches, and cadence, all of which each requires it's own time and place.