Thanks to technology, the green revolution, telecommuting and a generation of workers who grew up with smartphones and laptops, work cultures everywhere are being revamped. An article in USA Today notes the example of Zappos, the online retailing giant, where with the exception of 2 in-house lawyers, no one including the CEO, has an office. The company’s 1,300 employees work in cubicle-less offices. If cubicles exist, then they serve the purpose of stashing personal items. Walls are seen as disrupting the flow of creative juices and interrupting idea collaboration. According to Patricia Lancaster, head of The Lancaster Group real estate consulting company, “Younger workers… don’t aspire to the big corner office.”
One of our clients, Lindsay Stone & Briggs in Madison, WI, sought an open plan office with a recent redesign. Their new space incorporates low walls, glass architectural features, a flexible floor plan, and lots of shared public spaces for employees to meet and collaborate on ideas.
Favorite personal items like family photos and kids artwork have now found a new residence on computers’ wallpapers, smartphones and Facebook. Bulletin boards are seen as archaic. Plus, with the increase in digital filing systems, traditional office equipment like printers, copiers and humongous file cabinets are also being eliminated. Companies save more in rent as open floor plans accommodate more workers in less space. Efficiency is also at a premium at a time when environmental concerns are on the rise.
According to the article’s author, the move back to cities and to urbanized suburbs close to city centers, transit lines, shops, restaurants and apartments is helping fuel the trend. Even though space is more expensive in developed areas, companies find it easier to attract smarter and younger workers. Plus, the hassle of driving long distances and providing parking space is eliminated. So the most has to be made out of urban office spaces and an open workspace plan is the way to go.