Open office space versus the cubicle: it’s the office design showdown of the 21st century. Modern offices are becoming expressive, and in some cases, even artistic. The trendsetters in office design are getting experimental with office layouts, with open space emerging as an up-and-rising trend.
Call to mind the prevailing office stereotype, which depicts the office as a maze of cubicles. People sit at their desks, absorbed in their own working worlds. This quintessential image of the office has been the fodder of media satire for years. If you’ve tuned into the “The Office,” or have watched the satirical “Office Space,” you are definitely well aware of office culture humor.
The rise of open space is beginning to shift this office paradigm. Business owners and office designers are recognizing the impact that an office’s configuration has on employee morale and productivity. Many people are beginning to rethink the concept of the cubicle, and devise alternative workstations and layouts. The dawn of office design experimentation is here, with modern offices coming up with some interesting results.
However, not everyone welcomes these changes in office design. The cubicle has some staunch supporters who insist that it shouldn’t ever become a relic of the past. They give some convincing reasons why the cubicle should be a mainstay of office design. After all, they say, there are many good reasons why the cubicle has been such an iconic fixture of the office.
With two sides to every coin, will open space or the cubicle get the cutting edge? To decide, let’s examine the advantages of both.
Open Space Advantages
Open office space does present as a formidable rival to the cubicle. In an open workspace, employees can share, collaborate, and bounce ideas off of one another. It creates more of a team-centered environment where employees can engage their minds with fellow coworkers. If someone has a question or thought, they can easily share with their neighbors. There are no divisions, no physical separation of minds.
For creative businesses, this appearance of togetherness may be ideal, since they are about ideas and innovation. An open floor plan can be just the strategy that invokes creativity in a team of employees.
There is No ‘I’ in Team
Certain businesses thrive most when the office functions as a team, rather than a gathering of individuals. A team-centered environment can create camaraderie, and with this camaraderie, a sense of company pride. Company pride should be a key part of company culture. If employees have a positive emotional attachment towards their company, they’ll feel even more invested in its performance. They’ll be more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty, rather than simply put in the hours. The right dose of office banter can actually be fuel for a business.
The Cubicle Advantages
On the other side of the coin, there are some key reasons why the cubicle shouldn’t be a ghost of office past. Unlike open space, the cubicle gives you a sense of privacy, cutting out needless distractions. It can help you reach that focused, mindful state that helps you get work done. Some people may prefer a more private and self-contained working environment, which the cubicle provides.
Sense of Ownership
The cubicle not only gives you privacy, but also a sense of ownership over your own space. After all, you can decorate the walls of your cubicle with photos, letters, and other memorabilia. It becomes yours. Just take a look at some of your coworker’s cubicles. Unless they’re a minimalist, their cubicles are most likely adorned with family photos, vacation shots, or gag gifts from coworkers. You can express yourself through your cubicle, turning it into a collage of who you are and your office life. Those same cubicle decorations can also be a visual relief from the rigors of work.
Open Space Versus the Cubicle | Which One Wins?
The truth is that there is no winner. Open space and the cubicle both bring undeniable advantages to the workplace. Rather than viewing it as an either/or debate, perhaps it’s best to consider which layout best serves your particular business and industry. For instance, creative businesses may benefit most from an open layout, which encourages collaboration between employees. Conversely, a business in the financial industry may prefer to have cubicles in order to give employees a more private and streamlined focus.
Some businesses choose to go for a more diverse arrangement by bringing the best of both worlds to their offices. A mix of open space and cubicles/private offices can offer something for everyone. After all, different people have different working styles. While some people may perform best when given privacy, others may prefer a more social environment. When planning out the design of your office layout, it’s best to tune into the needs of your business’ industry and the working styles of your employees. Using a bit of strategy and insight can go a long way for your business and company culture.
We turn the question over to you: Do you prefer the privacy of the cubicle, or are you partial to the integrative environment of open space? Let us know in the comments below.