Workers love Apple’s AirPods because employers stole their walls

“Once upon a time, offices had walls inside them. They weren’t glass, like the conference rooms of 2019, but were made of drywall, and were usually painted a neutral color, like many of the walls you know and love,” Amanda Mull writes for The Atlantic. “Over time, office walls gave way to cubicles. Now, for many office workers, the cubicles are also gone. There are only desks.”

“If you’re under 40, you might have never experienced the joy of walls at work,” Mull writes. “In the late 1990s, open offices started to catch on among influential employers—especially those in the booming tech industry. The pitch from designers was twofold: Physically separating employees wasted space (and therefore money), and keeping workers apart was bad for collaboration. Other companies emulated the early adopters. In 2017, a survey estimated that 68 percent of American offices had low or no separation between workers.”

“Now that open offices are the norm, their limitations have become clear. Research indicates that removing partitions is actually much worse for collaborative work and productivity than closed offices ever were. But something as expensive and logistically complicated as an office design is difficult to walk back, so, as Jeff Goldblum wisely intones in Jurassic Park, life finds a way. In offices where there are no walls, millions of workers have embraced a work-around to reclaim a little bit of privacy: wireless headphones,” Mull writes. “We have Apple to thank for wireless headphones’ proliferation. The tech giant launched its tiny white AirPods in late 2016… For Americans who have already joined the office workforce, AirPods serve a different purpose: tuning out your co-workers without looking excessively hostile.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: All hail, Apple’s AirPods! Saving office workers’ sanity from misguided office designers the world over!

We got criticized in some corners for this Take….

Personally, we’d rather be together as one team in historic 1 Infinite Loop than shoehorned into the new doughnut with its “bench seating, long work tables, and open cubicles.” We expect it’ll be nice, but it sure sounds like shit.MacDailyNews, October 6, 2016

Then, 10 months later…

Here’s the story I heard that I cannot confirm because it was third-hand. So I cannot confirm it. It could be totally false, but it sounds true to me. And I think it could be easily checked, because if it’s true, people will know about this.

But I heard that when floor plans were announced, that there was some, I don’t know, whether it was a meeting or however it was announced, that 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 and growing one with a lot on their shoulders.

When he 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. So they’re not even in — not only are they not going along with the open floor plans, but Srouji’s team is in their own building. And maybe internally they’re saying it’s for security or that’s there’s a logical reason for it, but my understanding is that that building was built because Srouji was like, ‘f*** this, my team isn’t working like this.’ — John Gruber, August 6, 2017


Some Apple employees hate the new spaceship campus – August 8, 2017
Apple looks to improve cloud services by moving infrastructure onto Apple-made system ‘Pie,’ unifying teams – October 6, 2016


    1. Better, actually. No latency, infinite battery life because there is not battery … and actual working noise cancellation if you want it.

      It’s rather ironic to push mobile devices as being a good solution for solitary problems. But of course, this is what MDN reposts these days. Useless fluff opinion pieces.

      1. Stationary, not solitary. Most people actually work at a desk/table with an outlet nearby. Zero reason to rely on — or pay a premium for — battery powered electronics at all.

  1. With the kind of reasoning used in this piece, workers may be even happier having blinders placed on their monitors. Not only cuts glare but also keeps more prying eyes away from your work.

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