Office Space

(No, this isn’t a movie review)

Have you ever dreamed of attaining the coveted corner office? The largest and therefore obviously a symbol of rank and accomplishment? If you have, then tonight you may want to come up with a new dream because the large private offices of your parents generation are quickly going the way of the dinosaur. Throughout the history of the modern American office building there have been several changes to how much space designers have allotted for employees. In the 1970s it was generally assumed that each worker would require about 500ft² of office space, a number that had shrunk to 200ft² by the next decade and in 2012 research performed by CoreNet Global reported that the average work space had been reduced to just over 100ft² and in some cases it was even less. If you find this information alarming and suddenly you can feel the walls of your cubicle closing in on you, don’t panic… while it may be true that the vast majority of companies are downsizing to reduce costs and increase profits, many of these studies don’t take into account the fact that most of these companies are compensating for the reduced real estate by implementing well planned floor configurations and allowing employees to work where they want. This management style is generally welcomed by millennials who are now entering the business world, as they grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets that allowed them to stay connected and access information at the touch of a button from any spot on the planet. This familiarity with mobile technology makes the majority of millennials perfectly suited for telecommuting, working from home and being able to work while traveling. Basically, many American workers no longer need to be kept at a desk or even in an office building at all.

The reduction of space at the office can also be attributed to the shrinking of our electronics such as computers, fax machines, phones and monitors all of which can now be carried in one device in a pocket or a purse. This is a far cry from the massive, expensive and woefully inefficient machines that were used by previous generations to perform only a fraction of the tasks that the average smartphone or tablet can do today. With these modern pieces of hardware a team member can check emails while getting a coffee down the street, review accounts while enjoying the fresh air on the office campus or have a face to face interview via Skype while waiting for a plane in Copenhagen. This ability to work from virtually anywhere has revolutionized the way we can use an office building and some companies have embraced this new found mobility and converted their offices into more of a touchdown area where employees can come in when they need to, set up their mobile devices at any number of unassigned desks, couches or lounges and complete or drop off their work as well as pick up new assignments or have important in-person meetings. This style of management allows one relatively small facility to accommodate a much larger pool of employees than a traditional office set up because there will never be a full shift of employees there at one time. Strong leadership is crucial in this style of office and a slow transition is necessary so that people can adjust to the radically different environment. Some employees may embrace these changes from the start but those who have become accustomed to working in a cubicle or relying on the physical storage of an office may find it hard to go wireless and make the transition to a less restrictive schedule.

The thought of an office campus where employees are free to roam the grounds and set up shop where ever they please may seem like a dream come true for some but its simply not possible for all and an unproductive venture for others. For offices that handle work requiring a quiet atmosphere or frequent face to face contact, the traditional cubicle set up is a tried and true solution that has worked for countless companies over the past several decades. An office with private workstations where employees can store files, keep a dedicated phone line and a computer with job specific software can be an invaluable resource in many industries and may be a choice of preference for some. These assigned work stations accompanied by a communal area like a conference room or lounge where employees can meet and share ideas are great catalysts for innovation and breakthroughs while also providing a change of environment. Even if an open floor plan is preferred it is always a good idea to have several private spaces set aside as “quiet areas” where important calls can be made, meetings can occur and employees can escape any noise or distraction for work that requires much concentration. Overall, the most important thing you can do before designing or redesigning your office is evaluate your needs and weigh them against your resources. If you try to change the environment of your office too drastically then the entire facility will suffer and even if the transition to a new system is made slowly it may not be the best choice for your employees or your business. Remember, a Skutchi office designer can help you every step of the way from concept to completion to make sure that your office is a perfect match to your business with the latest and greatest in office furniture and cubicles.

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