Among the most recurring subjects in our work with our clients is that of "focus."
This is generally a term used to establish the need for privacy and shelter from others in the organization who are generally seen as disruptors. It is by now a very tired response to questions about the work that people do. They anticipate a transformation of their high-walled cube to a more open, action-oriented environment and use the need for some form of focus as the negotiating value for a type of space that, up until we arrived, was a signal of status.
We are not "selling" open office environments wherever we go. Our objective is to understand the work that is being done and to craft the best environment in which that work can be done. When people need a spot for individual focus, we'll provide it; when a team needs a place for (frequently overlooked) team focus, we'll do that, too.
But I am surprised by the general failure to consider "focus" as Steve Jobs did (quote below). For the product development organizations we serve, focus is a discipline that spans well more than an hour or a day. Focus is a deliberate, extended, ongoing critical activity requiring imagination, testing, socializing, developing and other activities that act first as aggregators and then as filters to separate out the things that no longer have value and uncover the things that have sustainable value.
Focus, in this sense, is not about the individual and certainly not about closing a door. An environment for focus for the leading product development companies of tomorrow is, instead, a very rich place.