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WACAC CubiclesWhile researching topics for this entry I came across a couple articles that seemed to overlap on the topic of office layout.

It is common to see offices that utilize four-wall cubicle style spaces to conduct their work. This type of space is meant to create a sense of independence, whilst allowing for many employees to work in a common area. Having multiple employees working in the same area is ideal for employers as they are able to fit more people into smaller spaces, thus, in theory, being able to produce more work.

However, in recent years, a more open plan has been adopted by offices. Having offices with 3 or fewer walls fosters an environment in which employees feels less isolated and more communal. With less physical restrictions people have more opportunity to share thoughts and ideas about their work. This can aid in creativity and group think adding to the productivity of the company.

This open floor plan is referred to in one article as, “engineered mingling.” Employees are able to hear an experience all aspects of their company via this model. Due to this, employees should then feel more engaged and invested in not only their work but the work going on around them. This openness can also help in the prevention of blurred lines or employee paranoia. If everyone is able to hear and see everything, then there is no question of who does what and where loyalties lie.

One question that may arise when looking at office layouts is, where does the boss sit? Should the boss be separated from the rest of the group? Should the boss be “down in the trenches” with everyone else? According to an article by Slate, there is a new model of management- transparency and availability. Bosses or CEO’s are best able to serve their staff if they are visible and accessible. If employees feel they can approach their superior at any time with questions or concerns they feel more empowered and confident in their work. Not only is the boss approachable but the boss has the ability to get in on all the action taking place in the office. The boss can listen and interact with each project and give immediate feedback. The employees feel both respected and connected to their management in this model. You can read more about optimal workspaces here. 

Obviously, we can’t all tear down literal walls and restructure our offices at the drop of a hat. It is interesting though, to think about how our office floor plans impact our work flows and productivity. Something to consider when choosing where you sit in an office or how often you choose to keep your door open/closed. Is your office space conducive to the type of work you want to produce?

Until next time!

-Amanda Wallin