One of the most common complaints about cubicles is that they make users feel isolated. Some work environments such as call centers have high noise levels that make sound-muffling partitions a necessity. However, in locations where phones aren’t ringing constantly employees can enjoy a more open atmosphere. Steel Case cubicles with low glass partitions are an excellent example of the type of unit that can be used to create a collaborative work area.
Steel Case has actually put a lot of thought into developing this type of work space. Their Deep Dive 360 report goes into detail about the functionality and benefits of installing collaborative work stations. They use the term “dyadic” to describe the process of pairing up coworkers to share ideas and participate in projects. An open environment fosters mutual learning in a way that isolated cubes can’t.
Of course, sometimes people do need to have personal space. Several models of Steel Case cubicles address this issue. For example, the Kick® series features tables on casters in addition to stationary desk space. These tables can be rolled away from the collaborative area whenever team members are attending to separate tasks. Rolling panels can also be used to “cube” or “un-cube” the desks in any configuration. These products are reminiscent of the sliding panels used in Japanese interior design. They offer flexibility and privacy while maximizing space.
Who Is Using More Transparent Designs?
The Deep Dive 360 report mentions Boeing as one company that has introduced a teamwork and communication focused blueprint with great results. Not only is employee satisfaction higher, the company’s office space footprint has reportedly been reduced by 40%. The Jones Lang LaSalle real estate company in Chicago has also redesigned its office to incorporate a collaborative look and feel. As part of this process, they have installed work stations with low, transparent walls similar to the Steel Case cubicle designs.
This trend is likely to expand as generation Y continues to make its presence felt in the workplace. According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, young employees put a premium on interaction with colleagues they respect. In collaborative cubicles, the mentoring relationship between older and younger workers can occur naturally.
Are Cubes On the Way Out?
Not at all – they are just changing shape. Fortunately, the modular nature of cubicles makes them the perfect candidate for a rapidly evolving workplace environment. Start experimenting with your existing furnishings to find configurations that enhance the flow of information. Or, request a free consultation to make the redesign process easier and less time consuming.
Collaborating with an office design company works well because you know what your employees need and a professional designer can open your eyes to what is possible. Then, you can select new, used, or refurbished cubicles to make the most of your available space.