Open-concept workspace the “new wave”?
Every once in a while you hear about the new office paradigm that is going to replace the dreaded cubicle farm. You hear that the notorious cubicle farms that house engineers and otherwise, all over the world, are finally going away and we’ll be ushered into the bright, open future of glass offices or lounge-style workspaces.
This time, ecommercetimes.com has a piece on the “End of the Cubicle“, reporting that companies like Intel, Cisco and Sun are following the example of industry trend-setters Google and VMWare into the land of the cubicle-less.
These organizations are all promoting newer, open-concept, shared workspaces to capitalize on reduced real estate costs, supposed increases in productivity, and in general, embracing the greater collaboration they feel is required in the modern workplace.
Now, if you were to ask Joel Spolsky, he and probably no small cadre of others believe that a workplace should be quite the opposite of an open, shared workspace environment. It should be an environment where a closed door is the default policy, working to protect the think time and concentration of the developer. Where collaboration is desired, technology and the old-fashioned concept of walking over to your peer’s cube serve to connect people, local or remote.
I canvased some of my co-workers to see what they think, and they seem to prefer cubicles and having their private space.
So, is the shared space work environment really the “new wave” the author of this article would have us believe, or is it just another experiment in imitating Google’s success?
Personally I kind of like the idea of the shared space, as long as there are plenty of team rooms and hidden corners to sneak off to when one needs their privacy. I’m not attached to my cube. It primarily serves as food storage depot and bookshelf, though it seems my co-workers have these “family pictures” they like to put up on their walls. Go figure.
I think another road-block is technology adoption. It’s great that companies like Cisco and Intel can afford wireless enabled whiteboards and laptops for every employee. Unfortunately, most organizations simply can’t drop that kind of dime.
I’m not quite so sure it’ll turn out to be the workplace panacea, but it sure sounds like an interesting environment to work in, despite opposition.
Credit: From digg.