Should you replace the cubicles with an open office design?

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cubicles vs open concept interior office designDoes the office layout have any impact on the productivity in the workplace? Decidedly so. At a time where social collaboration and information sharing are the buzzwords in corporations, especially here in Toronto, the open space interior office design is being hailed as some kind of a 21st century corporate savior. But it’s not that easy. Cubicles for a design space have not entirely lost their point, and some open workspace companies have in fact deemed it better to revert to the former.

An open workspace, often praised as innovative and flexible, allows for easy interaction and facilitates creativity. The premise is, without the stifling cubicles, the hierarchical walls give way to free rein, enabling staff to work in teams and collaborate with each other. Ultimately, employees produce work not only at a faster rate but also at a better quality.

Needless to say, the open office space has worked wonders for SAP’s cloud computing teams. With everyone sitting at an open environment, employees can share ideas freely and without inhibition.

While the concept may have worked for one of SAP’s teams, where the employee count is relatively small and the job requires continually squeezing one’s creative juices, there’s evidence that it might not work at every organization. TIME published an article in 2012 about the demons that hound an open office.  This includes unbearable office noise, lack of privacy, and increased employee stress. There’s a study to back this up, and it’s been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

This is why you might not want to totally rule out cubicles. Workspace innovators sometimes call them demoralizing, but it does provide a number of advantages that the open workspace does not. For one, it offers that valuable personal space. There will also be more space to stack documents and diagrams for easy reference. And you won’t deny, it’s much easier to focus when no one’s staring at you from across the table.

Ultimately, your choice of interior office design should depend on the nature of your company or product, the number of employees, and, well, what your employees think about it.

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