How your office is set up has quite an impact on how successful you are while at work. However, despite the importance of having a work environment that promotes productivity, there isn’t any one single layout or strategy that has been proven to be the most effective in all areas.
Still, that hasn’t stopped managers and designers from trying again and again to revitalize the office space. Here are a few different possible office layouts, and what they have to offer.
1. The cubicle farm
Who needs real walls, anyway? The cubicle farm layout basically takes the space efficiency of people-sized cubbies, turns them horizontal rather than vertical, and generally does its best to get the highest number of people into the smallest possible space. Is it cost effective? You bet it is, which is why the average amount of office space per worker in the United States dropped from 250 sq ft in the year to 2000, down to 190 sq ft in 2005.
Of course, there are those who find it difficult to be productive when working out of a three-walled box, so it’s kind of a trade off.
2. The open office
For those who want to get away from the soul-crushing uniformity of the cubicle farm, but still don’t want to have to spring for individual rooms, the open office is a logical step. However, it seems that once you take away the walls, you also lose something more. Issues such as temperature control, ringing phones, conversations, and the incessant beeping and whirring of countless machines all have a negative impact on productivity. At the same time, team relations tend to break down when individual spaces are removed.
Oh, and lest we forget, open offices report 62% more sick days on average than other, single-occupant layouts.
3. The networking office
So, is there a way to find a healthy medium between tiny cubicles and wide open spaces? Sure there is, and one of the most promising new designs is the networking office. Basically, it allows workers to use movable “pods” and dividers to create individual private areas, without killing any chance at social interaction. Still, the votes are still out on whether the layout is effective, or if it just brings together the worst of both worlds.
4. The Home office
So where else is there to go with planning an office layout? How about avoiding the question entirely and just having employees work from the home? With the ubiquity of the internet, and continued advances in communication technology, it’s becoming more and more common for regular employees to work at least a portion of the week from home (38% of employed Americans do just that).
What are the benefits? Well, in addition to not having to put on any pants, working from home has been reported as having lead to a 13% productivity increase, as well as resulting in fewer sick days and longer shifts, because hey, when you don’t have to worry about commutes, then you might as well put in a few more minutes before you punch out.
Of course, there are still some downsides. For one thing, home offices make it more difficult for managers to interact directly with employees. Of course, whether or not that really is a disadvantage all depends on which side of the cubicle you’re used to occupying.
Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.