Is it time to get depressed yet? This has been a topic for such a long time. It was in Peopleware in 1987. I thought I discovered the topic when Joel (On Software) wrote about it in 2000. While a few people seem to enjoy open offices, the overwhelming majority of developers I know, or who chime in on HN, value a quiet place to work and dislike open offices.
And yet, not only has nothing changed, it seems to be getting worse. It couldn't be more clear to me that developers, at least on this issue, simply have no clout as a profession. There may be a few individuals who can make demands, but on the balance, these are decisions imposed on us, as a group, and we are apparently unable to do anything about it.
In a response to the above comment:
30 years ago programmers were highly respected. We were mysterious to others and we were able to influence things like office layouts and the like.
At some point over that time period, things shifted. Programmers became seen as "geeks" who didn't really understand business and "business guys" took over.
They have no concept that we might know what we're talking about because "office space is the realm of business."
We're not capable of decision making and we have no understanding beyond our weird obsession with those stupid computers. -- that's how they see us. They'll lie and say otherwise, but deep down and a fundamental level, that's how non-technical people see us.
Is this true? Are software developers “geeks” that lack clout and respect with the “business people”?
If so, why is that? Have we earned our lack of clout/respect? I have some thoughts on this that I’ll explore in a future post.
In the meantime, let me leave you with this question: If you believed that an employee of yours did extraordinarily challenging mental work, which required extreme concentration, would you put them here to do that work?