A quick search on Google will provide plenty of ammunition for both sides of the cubicle vs. open-plan debate.
Articles written by reputable sources such as the Harvard Business Review and Forbes include headlines like: “Why the open-concept office trend needs to die,” “Open-Space Offices Are Insanely Stupid,” and “Cubicles are the absolute worst.”
Who knew office design was such a touchy subject?
Yet, despite all the hostility, approximately 70 percent of offices designs include either cubicles or open-concept layouts. Meaning both of these options must have something going for them.
So, instead of asking which option is better in general, maybe we should ask which is better for you. As with most things in life, there isn’t just one right answer. Rather, there are several ideal solutions, depending on the needs of your organization and its people.
So, forget about what the masses on Google say and find a personalized solution that works for you and your people. With that in mind, we’ve put together an overview of each choice. Take a read and then decide which makes the most sense for your needs:
Cubicles provide employees with a sense of permanence and ownership, thereby impacting people’s perceived value within the workplace. While having the opportunity to personalize a space with family photos or a small plant may seem like a minor detail, for many workers, it can boost their mood and therefore productivity.
The separation of space cubicles provide can also help workers deter unwelcome conversation when they’re engaged in focus work. And although cubicles are designed to mitigate distractions, they’re still open enough to allow for easy communication between coworkers.
Commonly preferred due to a more appealing aesthetic, open plan layouts give off a more casual, modern feel. The openness naturally gives way to collaboration and a greater sense of community. Conversation flows freely, leading to idea sharing and innovation.
That being said, the most important aspect of an open plan office space is the availability of alternative workspaces within the office. This is especially true if you’re choosing an open layout in order to improve collaboration. If people don’t have a quiet workspace to escape to, the communal atmosphere can become too much. The result will actually be less collaboration because fed-up workers will opt to work remotely in an effort to flee the constant distractions.
Regardless of which style (or combination) you go for, it’s critical to address issues of noise and distraction. People need quiet and focus to effectively complete certain tasks – there’s no arguing this fact. Many businesses offer venues for employees to work privately, including silent library rooms, phone booths, or mini-boardrooms. While these are necessary and valuable alternatives, it’s also important to ensure the open areas are designed to minimize noise. Sound-absorbing panels, insulated walls, high-backed furniture – these can all make a substantial difference to the work quality and overall well-being of workers.
At CDI Spaces, we know that a highly functional space will boost productivity and employee wellbeing - accelerating your organization’s success. If you’re looking for advice on the optimal office furniture for your needs, contact our CDI consultants today.
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