The Pros and Cons of Office Cubicles vs. Open Office Designs

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The business world is evolving, and many companies are pulling away from traditional office designs and discovering new and more efficient ways to work, such as open office spaces that lack the walls of traditional cubicles. For many employees, however, the cubicle is their business sanctuary and they aren’t eager to leave it. This leaves many companies hesitant about their design plans as they contemplate the question of which is more superior. Each design has its advantages and drawbacks, and before any company makes a final choice about how and where their employees will spend their work day, they should carefully consider them all.

Open Office Designs

While the concept of the open office has been around for some time, many companies have built on that original concept and have adapted it to their own office space and business needs. The biggest advantage to the open office is that it invites more open communication between employees. When there are no physical barriers, people feel more comfortable exchanging ideas with others, and new ideas drive almost any business. Open offices also save space, which is a boon for any smaller company that needs a cost-effective way to fit several dozen desks into its floor plan. Many cubicle wall designs are bulky and take up much-needed space, which is especially true for start-up businesses that must micro-manage their space if they are to fit all the equipment they need.

However, an open office design has its drawbacks as well. The biggest challenge with this type of office design is a lack of privacy, which many employees feel hinders their productivity. Open office concepts such as shared desks and non-partitioned work spaces make many employees uncomfortable during phone calls, as they feel other employees around them will hear their conversations, which many contain sensitive business information. Another problem that many employees face with open office plans is the noise level. Without insulated cubicle walls to cut down on the noise, sound levels of conversation, ringing phones, and people walking around can cause a great deal of distraction. When employees get off track because they are constantly surrounded by noise, it can be difficult for them to refocus their energy, which may lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.

Cubicle Designs  

While many modern offices want to do away with cubicles, they do have their advantages. Cubicles give employees a sense of having their own space, which can increase productivity and feelings of security. Having a private workspace can also help employees create a timetable that allows them to remain on task and focused, as they will not be constantly distracted or interrupted by the person across from them. Productivity also increases when employees have their own workspaces because it allows them to go about their business without having to worry if others are watching them or peeking over their shoulders as they enter corporate log-in names and passwords. When employees have to spend less time worrying about security, they spend more time working.

However, there are some cons to office cubicles. Purchasing these partitions can be costly, especially for smaller companies. To offset costs, there are used office cubicles available that can save companies on their floor plan design. Many office managers feel that shutting employees off from each other in cubicles discourages personal interaction and isolates workers, even if they offer them privacy. Partial cubicle walls can solve this problem, and if a cubicle plan is chosen, managers should schedule weekly production meetings to ensure that ideas are flowing freely. Company managers should allow their employees some input on which design would best suit their work area to increase productivity and overall worker satisfaction.

Byline: Jordan Berkowitz is the marketing manager for Arnold’s Office Furniture, a leading provider of used office furniture.

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