New in OS X: Get MacRumors Push Notifications on your Mac

Resubscribe Now Close

Some Apple Park Employees Said to Be Dissatisfied With Open Office Design

During a new episode of The Talk Show on Daring Fireball, John Gruber touched on the topic of the open floor plans that Apple has implemented within its new campus, Apple Park. Unlike office spaces at One Infinite Loop and other Apple-owned buildings -- which give most employees their own office -- Apple Park sports a large open floor plan with long tables for programmers, engineers, and other employees to work at.

Apple Park's open office spaces have been highlighted in numerous profiles on the campus, most recently by The Wall Street Journal in July, and now Gruber has reported that he's received emails from numerous Apple employees who are particularly dissatisfied with the design (via Silicon Valley Business Journal).

Standing desks within one of Apple Park's open offices
Judging from the private feedback I've gotten from some Apple employees, I'm 100% certain there's going to be some degree of attrition based on the open floor plans. Where good employees are going to choose to leave because they don't want to work there.
One source is said to have been with the company for 18 years. They emailed Gruber, telling him that they're working on something that is "going to blow people's minds when we ship," but before that happens their team is transitioning to Apple Park. Gruber noted that the email was very level-headed and had a "perfect Apple sensibility," but the source nevertheless said that if they don't like the Apple Park workspaces, they're likely to leave the company after the product ships.

Gruber said he got a "couple of similar emails," with employees stating that they won't outright quit before they move to Apple Park, but if it's as bad as they think it's going to be then they will consider leaving Apple. During the podcast, Gruber and special guest Glenn Fleishman pointed out numerous disadvantages to an open work space, particularly for coders and programmers who aren't used to a lot of foot traffic and noise in their vicinity while they work.

Gruber went on to mention Apple vice president Johny Srouji as one of the employees dissatisfied with the Apple Park office spaces. Srouji was allegedly so against the changes that Apple "built his team their own building" outside of the main spaceship building.
"I heard that when floor plans were announced, that there was some meeting with [Apple Vice President] Johny Srouji's team,” said Gruber. “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.”

Gruber continued, “When he [Srouji] 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 … My understanding is that that building was built because Srouji was like, 'F--— this, my team isn't working like this.’”
The idea that open work spaces at Apple Park could potentially "irk" employees goes back to some of the original profiles on the building. Last year, Bloomberg explained that there will be "few traditional offices" at Apple Park, and management will have to be at a vice president level or above to get their own formal office space, although there is reportedly potential for employees below this level to be eligible. During the company's presentations to the Cupertino city council, Apple's viewpoint indicated an open floor plan is "conducive to collaboration between teams."

In other Apple Park news, some Snapchat users have recently noticed that a handful of construction workers and visitors at the campus have been taking enough snaps to accumulate into a Snapchat Story of its own. If you're on the app, you can search "Apple Park" from the main screen to find the Story. The new "Snap Map" also shows an increase in picture-taking activity at Apple Park.


Apple Park opened to the first round of employees over the summer, and the campus will eventually house close to 12,000 workers. Over the past few years, drone footage has consistently documented construction on the site, originally referred to as Apple Campus 2, with more recent updates focusing on the advancements made to the area's landscaping and the Steve Jobs Theater.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)

30 months ago
I don't understand this push towards open floor plan offices.

Software development and engineering are highly focused activities. You get "in the zone" and work on your problem to find a solution. You might have several things going on in your head at once that all have to be there to figure out the problem.

Having people walking by, interrupting you and otherwise hassling you when you're in "the zone" can set you back quite a bit. At least for software developers and engineers, open floor plans are a horrible idea. At the very least have cube walls that come up high enough to give you a more quiet space.

I personally have an "office" with walls that don't go up to the ceiling, such that I can hear things going on outside even though when the door is shut, no one can see me. And even with that, stuff going on outside my office can distract me and throw off my train of thought. It must be horrible for workers in true open plan offices.
Rating: 134 Votes
30 months ago

"It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." - STEVE JOBS



I’m not surprised, the whole ‘open and collaborative work space’ stuff can go to far, and it’s become a joke. They should be building it around employee needs.
Rating: 89 Votes
30 months ago
I'm with this guy... 'F--- that, f--- you, f--- this, this is bulls---.'
Rating: 51 Votes
30 months ago
Forcing something new on people who don't want it just because Apple thinks it's better for them even when people say they don't want it? Definitely sounds like something Apple would do unfortunately.
Rating: 49 Votes
30 months ago
Welcome to the real world, pampered Apple employees! That office space looks pretty luxurious (and spacious!) compared to many I've worked in. For most of us, the days of private offices - or even cubicles - are long gone.

In any case, it's Apple we're talking about here. There'll be no shortage of qualified candidates lining up to take their jobs if they can't handle such hardships!
Rating: 31 Votes
30 months ago
I have to agree with the open office hate. If coworkers were considerate then it might not be a big issue but they rarely are. Some folks are more immune to ambient office noise and just assume everyone else is too. They talk too loud, hit their keyboards too hard, eat lunch at their desk, chew gum loudly, cough, sneeze, click their pens, and so much more. You don't notice just how noisy other people are until you're surrounded all day long.
Rating: 31 Votes
30 months ago
My office experienced this same thing.

After a move to brand new buildings, the employees went from relatively small offices with large partitioned cubicles, to very, very large office with no partitions.

It was really distracting, and loud, without the partitions. After a few years, management decided to add partitions for privacy, and to reduce distractions.

I think the open office collaboration idea is thought up from people that would never actually utilize it. In practice, they suck (imo).
Rating: 27 Votes
30 months ago
Open office designs are literally the most terrible environment to work in. I'm a software developer and we have this design because management falsely thinks it "promotes cohesion".

No, it invites distraction and frustrates those who need a quiet space to work in. The only people who think its a good idea are managers who have their own private offices, and employees who don't have a real job and just like to talk all day.

The open office environment where I work is so bad that I essentially surf the internet a large amount of the day, since it's so loud I can't concentrate enough to read developer documentation, which leads me to working on my time off at home where its quiet just to get the crap I needed to get done during the work hours finished.

I'm a software dev who sits with people that are on the phone all damn day with visitors stopping over all day long. Its infuriating.

I would welcome being shoved away in a broom closet with my computer.
Rating: 26 Votes
30 months ago
As an employee at a company with an open office floorplan like this, I can confirm that it really does bug the heck out of some people. Other people really like it. The rest of us are just really easily distracted. I suspect Apple's employees will find a similar spread of reactions.
Rating: 24 Votes
30 months ago
There's always a certain amount of people who act like spoiled brats every time there's change. Suck it up. I've been at my company (a hospital) for 20 years and they've crammed us into all sorts of environments. I sat in the basement by the morgue, with no windows, for a few years so excuse me if I don't have sympathy for people moving into the nicest building on the planet.
Rating: 23 Votes

[ Read All Comments ]