Even Google embraced the open floor-plan concept,
I think that the difference is that Google seems to do it correctly. I've worked in both Google offices and in other companies that did "open floor-plan", and I noticed a few things that Google does right:
- It's open within small groups (~12-15) of desks with higher walls separating the groups. This generally means that you have a team sitting together with open communication and you don't have to worry about noise/distractions from other teams.
- They have meeting rooms of various sizes, from non-bookable phone rooms (often used for personal calls) up to larger meeting rooms. People are encouraged to grab a meeting room if they're having an in-depth discussion with multiple folks.
- Common areas (kitchen, cafeteria) are separated from work areas. This means that visual/auditory/olfactory distractions from those areas are minimized, while still providing a place for people to get together and chat informally.
- There are quiet areas for people to focus. Most office have quieter "library" style areas, as well as "wellness" rooms with comfortable chairs/dimmable lighting. I have migraine issues, so the wellness areas were invaluable to me.