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Businesses The Almighty Buck Apple

Apple Employees Rebelling Against Apple Park's Open Floor Plan, Report Says (neowin.net) 271

During a new episode of The Talk Show podcast on Daring Fireball, John Gruber touched on the topic of the open floor plans that Apple has implemented within its new campus, Apple Park. A WSJ profile of Jony Ive, where he talked about Apple Park, mentioned how programmers, engineers, and other employees had already expressed concerns about working in such an environment. Gruber shared what he has heard: I heard that when floor plans were announced, that there was some meeting with [Apple Vice President] Johny Srouji's team. He's in charge of Apple's silicon, the A10, the A11, all of their custom silicon. Obviously a very successful group at Apple, and a large growing one with a lot on their shoulders. When he [Srouji] was shown the floor plans, he was more or less just "F--- that, f--- you, f--- this, this is bulls---." And they built his team their own building, off to the side on the campus ... My understanding is that that building was built because Srouji was like, 'F--- this, my team isn't working like this.'"
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Apple Employees Rebelling Against Apple Park's Open Floor Plan, Report Says

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @03:52PM (#54978423)
    If they do, I'll give them two options. Either I work from home, or I'm going to start looking for alternate employement.
    • by Puls4r ( 724907 )
      Ford Motor Company is starting to do this with their offices because they saw Apple and the other cool companies doing it. Fuck you Ford. Fuck you.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @06:46PM (#54979867)

        Ford Motor Company is starting to do this with their offices because they saw Apple and the other cool companies doing it. Fuck you Ford. Fuck you.

        No; Ford is doing it because architects work well in open plan offices - it suits their consultative, not too deep thinking, kind of work. And HR people. If they thought too deeply about what they are doing they would commit suicide, so they really really dream of open plan offices even though mostly they aren't allowed them. Then the two groups impose what would be good for their work on software developers and engineers, people who have two modes of work - absolute peace and heated discussion. There is no way a software developer can work effecively in a large open plan office.

        I have seen multiple companies going bankrupt after going properly open plan. Yes, sure, in most cases you could say that they went open plan because they foresaw financial problems, however the going open plan is probably what made it impossible for them to recover.

    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      They did this where I work. It's unbelievable to me how, today, someone can decide to do this to their employees when a simple google search for "open concept office" returns page after page about how terrible and anti-productive it is.

      But I told my manager to expect to see me less. I've worked at home at least four times more than I've been at my desk... probably more. And when I do go in to the office because I have to be there for a meeting or something, I go in and leave after.

    • If they do, I'll give them two options. Either I work from home, or I'm going to start looking for alternate employement.

      I actually don't find it that bad. I have a good set of headphones to cut down on sound, good music to work to and large monitors to cover my field of view. I don't find it hard to concentrate or work effectively, just crank up the tunes and go at it. It sure beats the 6' cube walls in the dark corner of the rat maze I used to have with no windows in sight for 20 yards. I felt like a caged animal with nothing to see in the last place, here I can actually look outside when I like...

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      Do you have an open floor plan at home?

  • by Gregory Eschbacher ( 2878609 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @03:54PM (#54978445)
    My manager and peers are constantly amazed at how much work I get done. The secret? Being a work at home employee means you don't have to deal with the incessant noise, eavesdropping on phone calls, office nonsense ("It's Tina in HR's birthday! Come sing!") etc. You can actually concentrate, especially when you're dealing with complex coding issues. Context switches are a fantastic productivity killer. I don't blame the Apple CPU designers. They're probably among the teams that require the most concentration in tech. Good for them for willing to buck the "accepted wisdom" about open offices.
    • I think part of the problem is that Apple has a lot of teams in a lot of different disciplines. An open floor plan is utterly terrible for programmers and other engineers. I don't mind having an open space where groups can meet for scrums or other occasional meetings, but for the rest of the time I want to be in an office or some other enclosed area where I can concentrate.

      However, I don't doubt that there are other disciplines where putting everyone in a separate office for the entire day is good. I wou
      • by tomxor ( 2379126 )

        ...I would imagine that various types of creative teams work best when they can be together and easily interact as a group in most scenarios. I'm not certain of this, but I suspect that people who function like this may not realize that engineers just want to be left alone...

        I duno... all creativity needs r-mode, when have you ever seen a brainstorming session among a group of people ever output anything particularly creative, group interactions tends to make it impossible to contribute anything that is not just prior knowledge.

        Actual creativity needs peace and quiet to let ideas peculate through your brain, when actively and prematurely probed by external forces these ideas collapse like an illusive wave function as you scramble for solidified, easily verbalised thought.

        • The introverts vs the extroverts problem becomes exacerbated when everyone's in close quarters. As an introvert, my strong desire to stuff a rag in someone's mouth becomes really high. I try desperately not to blather. I don't care the race, age, religion, gender, or sexual persuasion of the yammerer-- some do not understand how to STFU, or even how to have a conversational exchange.

          It is for this reason, constant, insipid, spewing blather, that I've left organizations; it was a good thing for both of us. T

    • by tomxor ( 2379126 )
      I just started doing a WFH a bit and it's amazing, I used to wait till everyone left do work on complex or thoughtful tasks, now I can do it in the day :)
      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        Don't you get cabin fever after a while? Working from home 1-2 days a week is great, but to me, being home 24x7 sounds a lot like being in jail. I've tried and it drove me nuts.

        Commuting can be a bitch but I used to live really close to the office and it wasn't much better. I need at least a 15 minute buffer to make the switch between home and work life, but maybe it's just me.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Ditto. For 1.5 years, I worked from home 100% as a Cisco contractor. I loved it! I noticed my office co(lleague/worker)s had open-office setups. Even my former employer before that job started doing those setups. I am glad I never had to work like that. I hope I never will have to do that for my future jobs if I ever get a job (almost eight months now :(). I'd rather work in a tiny cubicle with low walls.

      • I know for a fact that I will never again have to work in an open floor plan, because I will not accept any position that requires it.

    • My manager and peers are constantly amazed at how much work I get done. The secret? Working in an open plan means I overhear conversations and know about upcoming initiatives that will impact my team and my projects. I'm aware of the business needs and big picture, so can plan more successful deliveries.

      Different people excel in different kinds of working conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all. Even though I'm an introvert, I would absolutely hate working from home or working in cubicles and would quickl

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        My manager and peers are constantly amazed at how much work I get done. The secret? Working in an open plan means I overhear conversations and know about upcoming initiatives that will impact my team and my projects. I'm aware of the business needs and big picture, so can plan more successful deliveries.

        I believe you. If your organization is typical, you also probably catch idiotic ideas before they get too far.

        This doesn't require an open floor plan, though. It can be achieved in a cubicle or office setup if you get friendly with the right people and figure out an optimal path to the coffee machine.

  • Duh! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Nobody but management and some handful of hyper-social outliers likes open floorplan. Cubicles are bad enough. But open floorplan is the devil. Of course the employees hate it. Management had to know that going in. They apparently didn't care or thought the level of spying they can do would be worth pissing the employees off and making them less productive. When you look at the confluence of IT type workers (that Apple, being a tech co, is heavy in), we tend to be on the "autism spectrum" (what was formerly
  • by Puls4r ( 724907 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @03:58PM (#54978485)
    Open floor plans suck. Horribly. Why? Privacy. I'm stuff in a place doing work for 8 hours a day, and now you're going to take away my small walls so that everyone can watch my computer and listen to my phone calls.

    If I'm tired at lunch - I can't take a 20 minute nap because everyone will see me and label me lazy. I can't have a private phone call because I have someone 3 feet away from me. I can't log onto slashdot because I'll quickly get a reputation as someone who doesn't work and just surfs the web.

    So essentially if I don't fall into that small category of folks that like to bullshit and smooze (because if you're talking to people it looks like you're doing work, after all), then I am quite literally in the worst possible environment imaginable.

    But my boss clearly has super important things to do and needs HIS privacy. So he gets walls. And a door.

    And if the guy next to me is a serial yakker? Nope. No work getting done. Or the two guys diagonally are pranksters? Nope. The open floor plan was created by some Dilbert-Esque pointy haired boss who should have been fired a long long time ago.
    • by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [enimaf.copa]> on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @04:15PM (#54978653) Journal

      I worked in one tolerable open floor plan, and it worked for a few reasons: It was a small, close-knit team of a dozen, working on one project, with long tables to spread out over instead of cramped desks or cubes, with comfy chairs, and it was a corner room with windows the full length of two walls, with a private bathroom and kitchenette. Compared to where we moved from, that was fantastic. Offices would have been a step up, but compared to the dark dungeon of an open floor plan we came from, that quiet sunny office was amazing.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I'd take open plan over small offices/cubicles with no windows or fresh air. The noise reducing material they make cubicles out of gets very dusty too, bad for allergies.

    • I can't log onto slashdot because I'll quickly get a reputation as someone who doesn't work and just surfs the web.

      That might be bad for you. It's not bad for your employer. I mean the days when slashdot was a good way of following what's going on in the tech world as a professional are long gone. Now it is just a time sink.

      (And before the smart arse ACs come in, I'm at home, it's 10:50pm where I am, and so I'm definitely wasting my own time here.)

    • If I'm tired at lunch - I can't take a 20 minute nap because everyone will see me and label me lazy.

      We have napping rooms in our office for that.

      I can't have a private phone call because I have someone 3 feet away from me.

      We have private rooms with a phone in them for that.

      I can't log onto slashdot because I'll quickly get a reputation as someone who doesn't work and just surfs the web.

      My boss doesn't grade me on rumours of idiots.

  • by Tempest_2084 ( 605915 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @04:03PM (#54978553)
    The did this for half of my building (top floor is open while the bottom is still the standard cubicals) and every HATES it. Not that the little half-cubes we had before were spacious, but the shared desks are tiny! You get about 3 feet to yourself an two little dividers between you and the next person. That's about enough room for a computer, phone, and a piece of paper. They also gave everyone a little rolling footstool instead of a chair. People are in pure hell now. The noise is unbearable, no one has any room to do actual work, and everyone is ready to kill the person next to them. Thankfully I'm in a locked lab where they decided not to do this. Sometimes I think the only reason I stay in my position is so I don't have to be in one of those open desk areas.

    When they first floated the idea of an open floor plan the response of universally negative (like 200+ negative comments to one positive). The management said they'd take our concerns into consideration and then promptly installed the new desks a week later. Turns out they already had everything ordered and the whole 'tell us what you think' discussions were just a smokescreen to placate people.
    • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

      Ahh... that, too. My open concept spot is less than half the size of my previous cubicle. I have two laptops and a full size desktop tower that I can't put on the floor. The actual desk space was purposely limited because they wanted a nice, uniform appearance with everybody with one monitor and one keyboard, and they actually started with a policy of one monitor on the desk until we told them (we all work in graphics) that it's simply not going to work... some of us even need TV preview monitors. Now I

      • by E-Rock ( 84950 )

        One monitor? Are they animals?

        • Anything less than 3 monitors is considered abuse these days.
        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
          I get it: first world problems. Like our animators having a wacom cintiq acting as a second monitor... and then the VP complains because it doesn't look good.
          • by E-Rock ( 84950 )

            Not even joking. Two monitors improves worker performance from accounting to IT to graphics. Keeping people at one for some aesthetic reason is crazy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Learn how to be a pain in the ass for big companies when they do this.

      Step 1: "My back hurts, I need an ergo assessment."
      Step 2: You get a big, VERY expensive chair that others covet. Let them know how you got it.
      Step 3: "My DVT is bothering me. I need an ergo assessment."
      Step 4: You get a special, extra large, VERY expensive sit stand desk that others covet. Let them know how you got it.
      Step 5: "My tinnitus is bothering me. I need an ergo assessment."
      etc etc etc

      After spending $5000+ on each employ

  • For fuck's sake! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kergan ( 780543 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @04:08PM (#54978601)

    In the era of "suck his own cock" coming straight out of the White House, can we please stop trying to disguise fuck as f___?

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @04:33PM (#54978793)

      can we please stop trying to disguise fuck as f___?

      No. The WHOLE POINT of profanity is its ability to shock and offend people. If it is used openly and casually, it loses that ability. This has already happened with "damn" and "hell" which used to be perfectly good swear words, and "shit" is less and less effective. If we give up on "fuck", then we have almost nothing left. Maybe "cunt", but that is used as more of an insult than as general profanity.

      • You can use modifiers to make much more repellent curses than single word expletives.

      • Just get creative. There's always an ability to shock. If Fuck and Shit aren't good enough for you, start translating some Croatian profanities into English. English is really soft when it comes to swear words.

        • start translating some Croatian profanities into English.

          I have heard that Hungarian has some wonderful profanity.

          I can speak some Mandarin Chinese, which also has some great profanity, but alas, I never get the tones right, and listeners end up confused rather than offended. So I understand enough to tell when I am being insulted, but not enough to retaliate in kind.

    • Now that we have documented serial killers, can we just start killing people who annoy us?

      There's something to be said for not joining the race to the bottom, even when it's minor things like foul language.

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @04:22PM (#54978705)

    When I want to goof off or yap on for a half hour with the guys its great, its a fucking nightmare if you have to actually DO any work or god forbid have a phone call with a customer or a supplier

  • by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @04:32PM (#54978785)

    Guys, guys, guys. Before you start going on about how open office plans are just blatantly evil, please consider the shareholders. That's right, publicly-traded companies are owned by investors who want, nay NEED, to ensure that their corporate ownership investments are competitive against other investment vehicles. That how they get rich. With low corporate gains taxes, investors are practically FORCED to invest in corporate ownership compared to other forms of investment. So before you go blab blabbing about how you can't stand to sit next to Shouting Stan and Coughing Cassandra, please realize that your sacrifice yields a greater return on investment for your corporate overlords than if you were each allocated 8 more square feet of floor space, and $186 worth of divider walls.

  • Our company took over a floor and designed it to be an open floor plan for everyone below the program manager level. Even though I would have been allowed to work from home half the time, touring where I'd be working shortly definitely added weight to my early-retirement decision.
  • ...is my new favorite person. I'd definitely work for him.

  • Apple Geniuses (Score:2, Informative)

    Apple Geniuses, known by their more common name "Fuck Whits " came up with the brilliant idea of taking a group of people who are legendary for their desire to be able to focus, not to mention being highly introverted, and stuck them in a bright open floor plan with no privacy, no ability to personalize their space, and no ability to avoid socializing and are surprised when that didn't work out so well.

    Bahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    Corporate jackassery at it's finest.

  • When he [Srouji] was shown the floor plans, he was more or less just "F--- that, f--- you, f--- this, this is bulls---." And they built his team their own building, off to the side on the campus ... My understanding is that that building was built because Srouji was like, 'F--- this, my team isn't working like this.'"

    Tourette's? I sometimes think of it as "Debra Morgan Syndrome". C--k S--k motherF---!

  • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @05:29PM (#54979305)

    Yes, they save the company some money in the short term, but in the long term, they're very expensive in terms of lost productivity and loss of talent as people quit.

    I had a great position at major company that moved to an open floor plan. I gave it an honest try, but in the end it was crippling, and I quit because of it. Along with about 40% of the other engineers.

  • by bravecanadian ( 638315 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @05:36PM (#54979359)

    collaboration and communication you'd the usual office layout would be reversed:

    Managers would be in the open space so they could coordinate things effectively with one another and people with actual work to do would have the offices so they could concentrate.

    We all know the reason why this is not the case.

    • by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @07:45PM (#54980183)

      That's exactly what we're trying to do at my company for exactly that reason.

      I am a manager, and I need to talk to way too many people every day. I hate repeating the same conversation over and over. And I really hate when people feel like they're out of the loop because they didn't get a chance to be in on an important conversation. Still, we're a small company, need to move fast, and simply can't schedule absolutely everything that needs to happen.

      The solution is that the management needs to be out in the open and accessible at most times. A couple conference rooms with doors are all we need; most conversations I have shouldn't be hidden.

      I'm also the technical lead at my company. The folks I manage under no circumstances want to work the way I have to. They want solid blocks of time with no interruptions. I want them to have that too!

      I'm also the founder of my company. That is why these things can happen here and why our business folks understand the value of the technical team's culture.

  • by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @05:38PM (#54979375) Homepage

    ...has literally never met a programmer.

    Nearly all of our wasted time comes from trying to navigate a context switch. Sometimes it's unavoidable—the code is compiling, and so unless you're only waiting less than 15s, you're going to start doing anything else, and that 15s is suddenly 15m. But that's how it goes, and we all learn to navigate this to greater or lesser degrees.

    But being interrupted by someone else's random conversation is largely avoidable when you don't work in an open plan office, and largely impossible when you do. You're killing the productivity of your programmers if you put them in these open plans. Want to increase productivity and decrease costs without firing OR hiring anyone? Give them offices, or at least spacious (i.e., can fit 2 people and a white board) cubicles. It's like friggin' magic.

    • 15s is suddenly 15m

      I work from home. A random 60-seconds clip on YouTube to change my mind can magically turns into a one-hour... let's call it "viewing session" on pornhub.

    • Nearly all of our wasted time comes from trying to navigate a context switch.

      Even if true, it may not matter in way anyone should care. Because your employer cares about your team's overall productivity, not your productivity. Good software companies in the 21st century are not infatuated with engineers churning out huge piles of code, but with a merely good amount of code productivity that meets the real needs.

      Code that is built wrong, in either the wrong way or the towards the wrong goal, often has near zero or even negative value, once you factor in the opportunity costs.

      If you

    • It's Apple. Form over function.
  • I don't particularly want to work for Apple, but goddamn do I want to work for Johny Srouji.

  • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Wednesday August 09, 2017 @07:29PM (#54980091)

    When he [Srouji] was shown the floor plans, he was more or less just "Fuck that, fuck you, fuck this, this is bullshit."

    That was pretty much my reaction when Apple announced the 2014 Mac mini.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday August 10, 2017 @09:59AM (#54983117)

    From the article, I noticed that Johny Srouji is quoted as defending his team...quite vocally...against having an open office imposed on them. Individual workers will never win over the MBAs touting cost per square foot, or the design eggheads like Jony Ive demanding everything be white, flat and rounded. But the boss of a very influential part of the company has a little more pull. If a boss has sufficient leverage (and guts) to say something like, "Maybe I should take my chip design team over to Qualcomm/Intel/AMD and you can just buy processors for your iThings from them!" things like corporate "mandates" tend to fall away pretty quickly. Problem is that most managers aren't like that; if I were a computer engineer I sure wouldn't mind working for this guy.

    I know people have different work styles, and some extroverts and recent college graduates want to continue the college lifestyle by recreating the dorm/dining hall/open classroom feel. But in my experience, it's going to take Google saying "oops, we screwed up...open plan is only good for web startups with 25 people, and everywhere else should have a mix of styles and let teams/people choose." Every large company I've ever worked for copies HR policy verbatim from either GE, IBM or Google. I think they all use the same management consulting firm.

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