Back in the 60’s when cubicles hit the workplace, many companies were thrilled at the way they made the office work space more efficient. Employees didn’t seem to mind and enjoyed their little “office” and a little bit of privacy.
It seems those who take time to study work productivity and employee satisfaction tend to agree that cubicles stifle creativity, which can reduce productivity. Now, of course, not everyone feels smothered and non-creative, but they are saying that a good many do and because of this, there are organizations getting out there playing with other work environments to see what is more feasible.
Open spaces are not really new
Open work place environments are not really new, but they are becoming more popular. With Google and Facebook embracing the open space environment, others tend to agree that if it can work for them, it can work for others as well. Of course, companies like Google and Facebook tend to rely on quite a bit of collaboration, so open work spaces can be optimal, but for other companies open spaces may not be as suitable.
The main complaint
Why would someone complain about open work spaces? Lack of privacy. For those who enjoy the privacy of four walls, having zero walls will most likely not be a pleasant feeling. Others may feel that it will be too loud if coworkers tend to chat too much or that everyone will hear them if they have a conversation on the telephone. Companies are addressing such issues and some are including private project rooms for those who require more privacy.
Older generations will struggle more with the change than the younger generation. After all, those that have spent decades in cubicles have grown accustomed to their little, private work sanctuaries. For the young crowd, openness will not pose such an issue.
Those who have to collaborate
Those who tend to collaborate quite a bit will benefit the most from open work spaces, as they won’t have to walk the narrow halls like a rat in a maze in order to ask another coworker a question. Companies that have various teams will benefit as well. The work spaces can be arranged around the company’s needs and desires. In fact, many architects and designers are busy working on various plans and layouts for open spaces and hybrid spaces.
Many companies will use both types of work environments as fitting for specific tasks. For example, there may be a team of 20 working on projects continually, so their work area will be open, but there may be various sales reps that require a cubicle to do their business. It really will be individualized for each business.
Will the open work space win over the general work population? There are varying opinions, but many think that employees like the privacy of the cubicle and will have a tough time adjusting to the open work spaces. For those who don’t want to have to look at others all day or hear their every little remark, phone call, etc. the thought of open work spaces could cause them to look for employment elsewhere.
Regardless of the views of employees, companies are making the switch and time will tell whether they stick with the changes or not. Many agree that the hybrid option may be the best choice and even offering the employees the choice of a cubicle or an open space is a good idea. Companies want to do what is best for employee satisfaction, which will increase productivity.
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