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These architects popularized the open office. Now they say ‘the open office is dead’

As a longtime designer of office spaces for big companies such as Google, Microsoft, and the advertising firm TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles-based Clive Wilkinson Architects has helped define how offices around the world look and feel. One of its biggest innovations was a push toward the open office floor plan—the big, wallless room full of clicking and chattering desk workers that optimized the square footage of offices and democratized the workplace.

But for the actual office workers using those famous open offices, the experience has been less than ideal. They’re noisy and lack privacy, they reinforce sexist behavior, and they even make people quit their jobs.

Now, as the pandemic leads many companies to dramatically rethink how their offices function, Clive Wilkinson Architects has laid out a redesign strategy to achieve a more diverse, more multifunctional office. It starts with ditching the open floor plan.

“The open office is dead,” says Amber Wernick, an associate at Clive Wilkinson Architects. “We really see that being one of the biggest changes to come out of this pandemic and the way people are going to feel coming back into the workplace after working from home for over a year.”

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