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Cubicles or Collaborative Workspaces? – Planning Challenges for Facility ManagersJune 27, 2013
As we mentioned in a previous Smart Workplace Planning article, the age of self-contained offices or “cubicle farms” has largely passed. Whereas an individual workspace was once seen as an indicator of status or a desirable way to cut out distractions, today it is often regarded as an obstacle to efficiency and productivity. Open-plan, interactive workspaces, in which areas are freely multi-purposed instead of being designated for particular individuals or functions, generally allow for more intelligent use of a facility. But even if this interactive approach is becoming the “new normal,” is it really the only way to go?
The short answer to that question is, “Not necessarily.” Some occupations will always require workers to have private conferences, one-to-one conversations or just a quiet place to be alone and think. These individuals will always need ready to access to an enclosed space. That does not mean, however, that each of these employees must have a designated office with his name on the door. A well-designed office facility can include private meeting rooms, each of which can be reserved for meetings or private time on an as-needed basis. This strategy greatly expands workplace efficiency by allowing employers to maintain fewer such spaces per capita — after all, nobody needs total privacy every minute of every day.
Facility managers must also take into account what type of workspace will elicit the most efficiency from different generations of workers. Generation X workers, for instance, are frequently more comfortable, and therefore more productive, in a traditional workspace design. Generation Y workers, on the other hand, are used to a more free-wheeling “Starbucks and laptop” environment. You may need to make a gradual transition to an open workspace that parallels the generational shift among their employees. In other words — maximum flexibility equals maximum productivity!