If you feel like the walls are closing in on you at work, you are probably right! The size of an average office cubicle has changed drastically in the past 30 years. Back in the 70’s, a typical office planner would allocate 500 – 700 square feet per employee for a functional office space. Today, the average is about 200 square feet per employee.
Office environments are shrinking or even disappearing because of factors such as new technology, a changing corporate culture and of course, the economy.
Familiar technologies such as laptop computers, cell phones, and video conferencing are affecting the size of workstations and the way they are laid out. New technology has also changed the way work is conducted. Many employees can now work from home or touch down at a docking station.
Many companies are emphasizing teamwork these days, and the younger generation of employees who are accustomed to working anywhere but a desk are turning up their noses at the formality of a traditional office. Years ago employees aspired to have a window office with a view. In contrast, younger employees now feel no need to spend time in the company office. For many, the need to separate work life from their home lives does not exist.
Perhaps the biggest driving force in the size of workstations is money. For years companies have been gradually reducing the size and grandness of their offices. The recession seemed to accelerate the trend as owners were forced to let go of their old floor plans and try new ways to speed productivity, attract new talent and cut costs. According to national brokers, tenants who renew their leases these days are reducing their space by 10-30 percent.
Many companies are choosing to “restack”. The term refers to the process of making offices more efficient by changing the floor layout, reducing paper file storage space and introducing smaller, uniform workstations. The trend seems to be fewer private offices and more compact standardized workstations for employees who spend the day in the office. It is common for cubicles to be laid out in a manner meant to encourage collaboration. More teaming rooms are being created such as small conference rooms, where groups can work together. Workers such as sales persons who spend a bulk of their time out of the office, are seeing more touchdown stations for the short time they are in the office.
It is interesting to see how space has become less of a status symbol. I guess that is a good thing since it is predicted that our space allocation will hit 50 square feet per person in 2015!