After my talk with Mike on Leadership, we got into a discussion about open vs. closed office spaces. Mike is in favor of the open office while I (obviously) am not. Mike's assertion (which I actually agree with) is that you can create an interuptionless culture in an open office space, and still get the benefits of an open space that removes the psychological barriers to communication. In addition, Mike asserts that, if a person knows they're going to have to have lots of uninterrupted time, they can always work from home (not necessarily true, but I'll give him the benefit here).
These are two just fundamentally different approaches: one that favors open communication, and creative collaboration, versus one that favors individual productivity, potentially at the expense of team productivity. However I believe that closed offices are better for two reasons.
First, I believe flow and interruptionless work are important to personal productivity and job satisfaction. This doesn't mean that I believe that everyone should always go uninterrupted all the time, but that a culture that minimizes these by default is important.
Second, because I believe it is easier to foster an open culture in a closed office than to foster a closed culture in an open office. What this means is that I think that you can work very hard to foster a culture of few interruptions and respecting people's time and space in an open office, but that when it comes down to it, the open office itself works against this. In contrast, while a closed office makes open culture harder, but does not necessarily work against an open culture, especially if said office provides open spaces as well.
With all of this said, Mike also pointed out one very key point:
Most likely, neither Mike nor I are ever going to be in a position to actually be able to plan out an office.