Cubicles were once a futuristic and positive idea, taking the chaos of open offices and turning it into an orderly universe with space for each worker to call their own, including expanded desk space, storage space, wall space and so on. Sadly, this utopia turned into a dystopia, as costs of office space rose and the focus shifted to finding out just how small a space could be to accommodate one worker. Cubicles went from smaller than an office but big enough to move around in to something you practically had to walk into and back out of with barely enough space to turn around.
70% of workers now work in open office layouts, thanks to hatred of cubicles, but in reality cubicles can be more beneficial – after all, they were originally designed as an escape from open office planning. Instead of promoting collaboration, open offices are actually less productive; in fact, according to research by North Carolina State University, the combined lack of privacy and open office hustle-bustle “contributes to mental workload, poor performance, stress, and fatigue.” It takes an average of 23 minutes to recover form a distraction, so imagine how productive and 8 or 10 or 12 hour day is when you can’t concentrate! Workers need their space, and 80% of office “drones” say respect is more important than a raise. Pat of that respect is working conditions that don’t make you dread going to work!
The architectural, planning and design firm Gensler recently released its 2013 U.S. Workplace survey, which actually doesn’t vouch completely for either an open office layout or a cubicle driven workplace. “No one work mode determines the effectiveness of a space,” writes CEO Diane Hoskins. “Instead, workplaces that balance work modes are the key to achieving high-performance and avoiding the pitfalls inherent to many workplaces. One size doesn’t fit all.”
Instead, a balanced mix of environments should be created to take into account and promote focused work, collaboration, and even learning. You don’t have to pick one style – instead, blend open and cubicle layouts and use creative thinking and planning to benefit all members of the team.
Check out new cubicle options and build a modular office with open space and private areas, and see productivity and worker satisfaction soar!