Well, it depends on the organizational structure and the type of company your organization is. Multiple factors go into determining what kind of office space would be the best to increase employee productivity. If the general organizational culture is growth-oriented and encourages communication, then an open office setup would be preferable.
Many corporations have, over the years, started adopting an open office policy and have also started breaking down the cubicle walls. However, is this setup promoting growth and helping in building a stable working environment for companies across the bar? The answer to this is no.
Many factors go into promoting and growing employee productivity, the concept of open communication may seem attractive to most firms, but we really can't draw any broad conclusions. I say this because every employee is an individual, and every individual has his personality and his environment in which he or she functions best.
In this article, I am going to draw out the reasons and the alternate reasonings behind cubicle style offices and open style offices and help draw a conclusion on which space structure is better.
Cubicles Have Historically Considered As Radical
Cubicles have been around in the corporate structure since 1967 that have managed to give employees a small space. Cubicles in the 1960s gave employees the illusion of having a separate office space while also allowing managers to monitor the work from a distance and give employees an independent space to function effectively.
Over time our culture has started to depict cubicle workers as overworked individuals buried under countless projects and countless mounds of paper. While this statement might hold to be accurate for many, in some corporations, the cubicle culture delays the workflow and the process because it also allows employees to slack off during work hours.
Cubicle plans appeal to most human's need for privacy and also give us time to focus on our work without any external distractions. One of the many reasons why the cubicle culture still holds its appeal for many people.
Open Office Spaces Are Prehistoric and Date Back to the 1900s
This information might come as a surprise for many people, but open office structures date back to way before the introduction of cubicles. The corporations that are trying to be trendy by implementing new trends are quite literally going back in time and taking a lesson from history.
In the very initial organizations, there was no such concept of having a cubicle, and everyone used to work together in an open space. The open-office layout has gotten a lot of attention because of the giants like Google, American Express, and Facebook companies. In the united states alone, open office structures make up 70% of the corporate structure. That is a pretty significant figure!
Pros Of Open Office Structures
Open office spaces aim to be more inclusive; the concept behind public office structures is that they intend to eliminate all the barriers to communication and also help in quick connection and fast learning.
They Help Improve Collaboration And Inclusiveness
Open office spaces could help recruits observe and learn the company practices much quicker than they would be able to if the company structure were a normal one. You can easily watch and see what your supervisor or manager is doing and quickly pick up on his practices and learn about his preferences.
Open office structures also give out a very inclusive feeling and help break down the figures of authority to just regular plain people that you can talk and communicate with. The CEO could be sitting on the same table next to you, and you can easily communicate with him without having to schedule a separate meeting or without having to feel nervous or anxious about it.
Open office structures help employees collaborate and work together to execute new deals.
Open Office Structures Also Help You Utilize Space More Effectively
These forms of structures help you be able to utilize space more efficiently; cubicles take up a lot of space to make, and they also lead to wastage of space as well. Companies can also end up fitting in more employees in an open office space than in a cubicle. The more employees you can fit in, the better will be your productivity, and the quicker you will be able to get tasks done.
Drawbacks to the Open Office Layout
Some researchers have called the move to an open office layout to be more of a hindrance to collaboration than helpful to it. Researches have also indicated that incorporating an open office culture might sound great, but it also might not be the best thing to introduce.
Open Office Structures Give Zero Privacy
It becomes easy to see and look at what other employees are doing and what their functional roles are. For some companies, discretion is essential, even within the organization. Open structures can also end up in many people stealing your ideas and concepts and presenting them as your own.
Open office structures also have a distraction problem. People that work in open-office structures claim that it is much harder for them to focus on work because of the constant chattering of co-workers.
Open office structures contribute to a loss of focus. Studies have also gone on to show that this form of seating arrangements can be the cause of increased anxiety amongst people, and continuously exposing people to each other around the clock can have lasting mental implications on many people.
Lack Of Distinction Between An Office And Home
Open office structures where employees are encouraged to work in any space that they can find can prove to be harmful. Research by the American Psychological Association has indicated that with time more and more employees are constantly checking their work correspondence from home, and employers often expect employees to put in extra hours and also be available for all queries around the clock.
This culture is becoming more and more prevalent, with employers always expecting their employees to be available around the clock without any additional payments or compensations. The expectation that employees should always be available is a massive problem because it undermines and pushes aside the importance for employees to take breaks and for employees to take time off to unwind and think clearly.
Being unable to take breaks has lasting mental implications for the employees and can cause their productivity to drain down slowly. To optimize productivity and keep your employees motivated enough, you need to provide them with an ample amount of time to rest so that they are energized throughout the next day and can take on a lot of tasks much more quickly.
What Are The Benefits Of Cubicles
Cubicles Allow A Moderate Level Of Privacy
Cubicles allow some form of privacy between workers and can let people take on tasks independently and in their headspace. It also allows workers to be able to focus more on tasks and to be able to socialize or communicate with other employees or colleagues as and whenever they need to.
The reason subdivided offices stayed successful for long is that they were able to absorb sound and thus were also able to remove distractions.
Cubicles Let You Not Be Judged By Your Peers Every Second
One big problem with open office spaces is that you are excessively judged. Be it your dressing or your posture since you are in plain sight of many other people. You are prone to many more judgments and opinions about the way you work and the way you carry yourself.
Cubicles provide a small barrier that can hide you from the plain sight of literally everyone. It also helps you not draw focus on yourself, which can help you and other people concentrate more efficiently.
Cubicles Tend To Get Overly Cramped
When we're in charge of a single place, we can end up giving in to the tendency of hoarding files and documents in the hopes that it will become useful one day. Cubicles already provide much more limited space and that limited space can become further cramped with the clutter.
The association that cubicle workers are always overworked has been proven to be a myth and nothing more. Employees that work in open office spaces are also often overworked and have a lot of deadlines to meet. The notion that open-spaces will have less work and more conversation is said to be false. Instead, open spaces promote excessive communication, which can end up hindering and slowing down the office workflow.
Studies done in 2013 have indicated that employees working in cubicles often felt mo hindrance or obstacle in communicating with other people. The physical barriers in cubicles posed no real barriers to communication. Instead, this study came up with a surprising discovery that open office spaces play a more significant role in inhibiting collaboration than in promoting it.
So What Structure Is The Best?
In my opinion, I feel that blending these two structures is the best approach possible. Open workspaces are not that bad and can be a preferred option for some employees. Corporations, while designing their office layout, should include a mix of both forms of seating arrangements. Concepts like the whiteboard and conference rooms are crucial for brainstorming and coming out with innovative ideas.
For corporations looking to maximize their productivity, they should think of concept designs; many firms that have an open table and no doors policy also have designated spaces where employees can retreat to and work on their own if they want to.
Separate kitchen spaces can also be an excellent place for employees to take a small break in private to be able to focus their minds and work productively. Firms like google adopt a unique approach to how their work. Their employees are allowed to take walks in parks and do fun activities all day within the office hours as long as they can meet their targets.
Google believes that happy employees are the best employees; google offers its employees a lot of perks like paid leaves, free and healthy meals, and on-site childcare. The firm also allows a lot more flexibility for employees to work on their passion projects. Not many other corporations are encouraging of that.
Google also works on motivating its employees and helps them create and execute projects that can benefit society, and many Google employees claim that the sense of fulfillment is one of the factors that encourage the employees to keep giving in the company.
To conclude I would like to say that the kind of workspace that your company offers highly depends on a lot of things. And different workspaces can have different effects on productivity, but the best approach is to incorporate both cubicle and open table workspaces so that employees can choose their workspace on their own.
The ability to choose will help many employees function more quickly and will also help them be able to take projects and assignments on at their pace. Every employee and every organization is different, they have their own set of different values, and they also have their principles and values. There is no right and no wrong answer to the question because the answer is very subjective.
Not every office can accommodate such hybrid setups, and most offices also cannot afford to give employees as much space as a tech giant like Google can. But there can be some attempts to make sure that your workers are comfortable and happy in whatever setup you choose.
Despite all the fuss, I expect the cubicle set up to stay, and I hope that over time, companies will shift towards a hybrid adoption of both approaches. Most architects recommend hybrid structures with cubicle and open table seating arrangements.