I work in an office that is extremely poorly designed as an open office. There are still two cubes for mid level managers, and offices along the wall for the high level managers. The rest is all a mix of half height cube walls or no walls at all. There's an "island" counter near our area where people tend to put snacks and treats.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to concentrate or get any work done 90% of the time. It drives me insane, and after 5 years I am to the point of telling management I am going to leave if at least our area (IT) is not changed soon.
People are constantly talking/shouting nonsense and completely non work related shit across the entire office. Technically, this is still possible with cube walls as its not like they have any sound deadening but this atmosphere completely encourages people to talk to their neighbors and even their neighbor's neighbors. People don't even use phones a lot of the time and just yell across the office. The worst part is our area, with the island of snacks makes people show up like it's a water cooler and have little inter-office meetings and cell conversations there (again rarely work related). They also try to prod me and my co-worker into conversations with them from the island.
I am a Network Administrator and my co-worker who is a programmer are distracted the majority of the day by these drive by visits and shouts across the office (whether involving us or not). When you're trying to solve a critical server issue, multi-task multiple issues, or just concentrate on reading tech whitepapers it is impossible most of the time to effectively do it in this environment. I can't even imagine how bad it is for him as well being that writing code rarely goes well with constant interruptions.
This type of environment on paper might look good for "communication," but in reality it just breeds the wrong kind of communication. People are not getting their work done effectively because they are distracted which leads to them joining in on the distraction.
If I had my own office or we had a normal cube setup around here, our IT team alone would be like 400% more efficient and effective. Don't get me wrong I am not against taking breaks and the occasional distraction can be helpful, it's the constant nature of it in this office; and the way that it affects everyone at the same time that is an issue.