Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Hackers need offices, not cubicles

Paul Graham’s essay Great Hackers is a good read.

The most compelling statement he made was a rant against cubicles:

If you want to get real work done in an office with cubicles, you have two options: work at home, or come in early or late or on a weekend, when no one else is there. Don’t companies realize this is a sign that something is broken? An office environment is supposed to be something you work in, not something you work despite.

I’m not a hacker (not sure I ever was). I’m a manager. But I think Graham’s advice applies to me for completely different reasons. I speak very loudly when I’m on the phone (my parents do this too; I think it’s genetic) and it’s hard to remember to keep my voice down. And if my boss or one of my employees comes by and we need to discuss something sensitive such as a negative performance review or an internal transfer, shouldn’t we be able to have that conversation without needing to wander around the floor looking for an open conference room?

I had an office (and a really nice chair) back when I worked at Adobe. I liked it better.