While the concept of open workspaces is far from new, it has recently become a popular topic of discussion for many companies and institutions. This is likely due to the fact that so many offices today are incorporating this style of workspace. According to a survey conducted by the International Facility Management Association in 2010, 70% of all offices currently have an open floor plan. The idea of the “Open Office” stems from Hamburg, Germany in an attempt to increase communication and idea flow in the 1950s. Recently however, as more companies and institutions restructure their office space, the idea of “hoteling” has become much more developed. The overarching premise challenges the belief that one office or cubicle is the ideal workspace. These shared office spaces are structured around an “activity-based” work model, in which employees can choose from a variety of spaces depending on their tasks for the day. For instance, if an employee has meetings or calls, he/she might select an “office for a day.” Conversely, if a team is working on a project, they might choose a conference room or an open space in the office lobby to collaborate. Focus rooms, on the other hand, might be useful for people who need a quiet space to work. Additionally, these types of offices often become paperless, making it much easier for employees to access and share information and eliminate waste.
Many “Open Offices” consist of similar spaces:
These open office spaces also incorporate cloud-based storage systems, PDF-reading and writing software for easy editing, and “follow-you” printing, which allows employees to print anywhere using their ID card. That provides employees with the ability to work anywhere, including remotely, as long as they have access to the internet. Despite the fact that these spaces look great on the surface, recent studies have questioned whether they are truly more effective in promoting increased productivity and employee satisfaction. It seems that these spaces might actually be undermining many of the things they were designed to achieve. Concerns include:
Despite the increase in offices incorporating these environments, studies have not shown the most positive results. It remains to be seen whether these open office spaces will continue to flourish and develop or whether the corporate world will see a return to offices with closed doors and the cubicles we know so well through TV shows like Office Space and The Office. But in reality, it is ultimately a choice that can be incorporated in stages, partially or left to traditional office set-ups. Bottom line: it’s always great to have options
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