Software developer Adam Lane has written an interesting article expressing his personal opinion on the office vs. cubicle debate. He makes a good point that for people in a line of work that requires uninterrupted concentration, an open cubicle layout may be less than desirable. That’s why many employees in his line of work use headphones and music to drown out the noise created by their coworkers.
The author runs through a pretty impressive list of benefits to giving each developer his/her own office space while also leaving some areas open for collaborative tasks. Of course, he acknowledges that this approach is more costly than setting up cubicles. However, he argues that the increase in productivity and reduction in errors makes up for the initial investment.
There are actually quite a few cubicle manufacturers who also offer architectural walls. The Altos collection from Teknion is one example. These walls are reconfigurable (although not as flexible as a cubicle system) and reduce noise very efficiently. This type of solution might be a good option for companies that want to spend a little extra making their “thought workers” happy and reduce distractions.