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What I don't get about this open office debate is: why is it wrong when there is less face to face talk, and more email/chat/etc?

You may think face to face is more efficient, but it isn't. Someone has to take good notes, summary, etc. With mail? You have it with no extra effort.

Recording meetings one way or another is super important.

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@algernon well, if that's the goal, why not let everyone work from home, and so maximise good communication?

(Probably because it's really about control, an engineer with a door closed cannot be trusted.)

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@joeyh @algernon

I find it highly useful to do certain kinds of high-bandwidth communication in person, possibly in front of a whiteboard. Doing those over text online is often frustrating and error prone.

Example: "I have an idea" followed by lots of handwaving and brainstorming and much discussion. End result might be something completely different from the starting point.

That kind of thing rarely happens in open plan offices, though.

@liw @joeyh In those cases, a whiteboard and a recorded video meeting can work quite well, I found. Not as convenient as in-person, but close enough.

And for all other, lower-bandwidth cases (which are typically the norm, in my experience), text is A-ok.

@joeyh Good question, why not?

If you don't trust your engineers enough to let them work from home, that's a problem.

(FTR, my part-time job I do from home, and am much more productive in that case.)

worth noting that these issues with open-plan offices were known as far back as 1997, well before the current fad

newyorker.com/business/currenc