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Blog Archive For September

The Cubicle at Age 50: Alive and Well, or Dying Slowly?

office-cubicle-design-ImagePerhaps the most ubiquitous of all office space imagery, the cubicle—loved by many, feared by more—is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. That leaves those of us who care about offices and their design to wonder—is the cubicle thriving after all these years, or is the standard of office designs on its way out?

First, an aside on the cubicle’s cultural importance is in order. The cubicle has served as a central piece of imagery in some of the most savage satire directed at the corporate world. In the nineties, as the tech boom brought dot-com companies massive financial success, the world was introduced to Dilbert and to Mike Judge’s cult classic film Office Space. Both of these comic creations jabbed plenty at the conformist nature of the cubicle office, but deeper down, especially in Dilbert, some affection for the cubicle is evident.

Indeed, many office veterans admit to a fondness for the cubicle office layout. National Air Warehouse business development manager Ramon Kahn reminisces fondly about the years he worked in a cubicle. “You always have someone to interact with,” Kahn said. “If you are stuck in a rut there is always someone there to help.”

And Kahn isn’t alone. Michael Dunne, a public information officer at Pacific Continental Bank, loves his cubicle working life. “An office is a great enabler of the chronically sloppy and disorganized,” Dunne said. “Having a cubicle means you have to clean your desk and work area every evening—lest you be labeled ‘pig pen.’”

Some would suggest that the cubicle is dying, and point to the office stylings of tech giants Google and Facebook as proof. Google and Facebook’s office spaces feature wide-open spaces, where people sit and work by one another’s side with no cubicles or partitions of any sort. In fact, these tech titans and other companies have experimented increasingly with “standing desks,” which aim to improve employees’ posture by preventing too many long periods of sitting.

However, even Ramon Kahn admits that all is not always rosy with the cubicle office layout. “You can get stuck next to someone who is annoying, smelly, rude, awkward, or dramatic,” Kahn said. “Things can go sour pretty fast.”

Cubicles have their supporters and their mortal enemies, and this goes to show the diversity of tastes regarding the layout and organization of office spaces. Whatever your office design and planning needs are, Office Space Planners is here and ready to help make your vision a reality. Come find out more today!


The History of the Cubicle: a 50th Birthday Retrospective

02As we mentioned in an earlier blog, the cubicle is turning 50 years old in 2014! In that time, the cubicle has become the longstanding symbol, for better or worse, of the corporate working world. Though associated by many with orderliness and efficiency, the cubicle, to some, stands for drudgery and conformity. Here are some highlights from the history of the (in)famous cubicle:

-Robert Propst is credited with creating the cubicle. Interestingly, Propst conceived of what he called the “Action Office” as a workspace that would “liberate” the modern worker. Propst’s vision originally consisted of a large space which blocked out outside distractions, in which a worker could perform multiple tasks at once.

-However, as the “Action Office” proved spendy, unwieldy, and impractical, Propst went back to square one and designed a smaller office with three angled and moveable walls. He called it “Action Office II,” a much more exciting name for what we would now just call a cubicle!

-Currently, about 40 million people in North America work in cubicles on their workdays. The line of thinking that open-space offices are distracting has been influential for decades, and partly explains why lower-level office employees in particular are often relegated to cubicles.

-Cubicles have their fair share of supporters, even today. Some major corporate bigwigs have been so loyal to the cubicle workspace that they have remained in cubicles even after hitting it big! Former Intel CEO Andrew Grove and eBay head Meg Whitman both worked in cubicles while leading their companies, and even former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg used to preside over America’s largest city from a cubicle office!

-However, office design, like many other things, goes through cycles of fashion. The cubicle, though still widely used, is starting to lose some ground in the fashion department to newer, less confining office designs. Open offices are on the rise, though detractors point out that these lack privacy for employees.

-The choice is now and has always been a matter of taste. But cubicles have had a long and productive run in the American workplace, and seem likely to stay around for some time longer. Though cubicles’ supporters remain staunch, the voices of opposition have grown louder each year—as Office Space’s Peter Gibbons famously quipped of the cubicle office, “We don’t have a lot of time on this Earth. We weren’t meant to spend it this way.”

Whether your office planning and design needs involve cubicles or not, Office Space Planners is here and happy to lend a hand. Contact us today or visit our website to find out what we can do for you!


The Art of Space Planning

office-cubicle-design-ImageThe larger a company gets, the higher of a priority space planning ought to be for it. Not just office space planning, which a large company should already have figured out, but planning specifically designed to utilize an office’s physical space in an optimal fashion. Within the confines of an office space, it is easy to underestimate how many possible arrangements are available for the space, and how widely they may vary in effectiveness based on a company’s demands!

Planning an office space is a difficult job, but there is plenty of good advice to be found. Here are some things to bear in mind when doing space planning for an office:

-Building codes and regulations. Specific cities, states, and buildings place constraints on how offices can be designed. It is good to be aware of these restrictions beforehand, as many are non-negotiable. Be sure that you are planning with respect to your space’s constraints for energy usage, other utilities, specific design requirements, or any other specific restrictions!

-Proximity of employees. You will want to bear in mind the specific demands of your company and its employees. Do your employees typically work in teams or in isolation? If they are placed close together, are they more likely to effectively communicate or to distract one another? Ideally, you will arrange employees’ work spaces such that those who often work together are place in close proximity to one another.

-Room for offices of new hires as company expands. This is the trick—it is ideal to leave plenty of space vacant when planning an office, especially if expansion is in your plans. (And it should be!) Consider the maximum possible amount of new hires you can envision hiring in the next three to five years, and then determine whether or not work space for these hires could be comfortably added to your office space. If so, great—if not, you may have some thinking to do.

-Employment law. State and federal laws require certain accommodations to be made for disabled employees. Any office ought to be designed with these needs in mind—if you do not comply with them, you risk facing legal repercussions. Be sure that you are thinking of accessibility for employees from the outset when planning office space!

Whether you are concerned with the proper utilization of office space or any other design issue, Office Space Planners is ready to help. Find out more about what Office Space Planners can do for you today!


Home Office Setup Tips: Separate Work and Home

As the potential to communicate and accomplish work over the Internet has increased, so has the market for work-at-home jobs. The prospect is appealing to both employers and employees—the former get to hire employees who can work from a far-away location and do not have to pay office rent, while the latter acquire a degree Read the full article…

Office Planning: Choosing the Right Ergonomic Chair

“Ergonomics” is one of the biggest buzzwords in the office workplace today. As office work has shown that it can take a toll on people over time—repetitive stress injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome being worst-case scenarios—office workers have sought to find ways to reduce strain on their bodies. It is important to be comfortable and Read the full article…

Flexible Office Spaces on Rise

Like any other field, office design is prone to changes in fashion. However, office space design fashion is never haphazard or random—certain functions and features of office simply are recognized for their virtues at varying points of time. Let’s take a closer look at one of the most popular trends in office space design, flex Read the full article…

Simple Reasons Small Businesses Fail

The spirit of entrepreneurialism can arguably be said to have been one of the chief concepts that built the American business culture. From Henry Ford to Steve Jobs to your next door neighbor’s innovative consulting, Americans exude a special knack for turning a set of challenges into profitable assets. While small business ventures have contributed Read the full article…

Maximizing Your Break Room Potential

No matter how mobile your workforce, it’s important as ever to maintain gathering places for downtime and breaks. The break room, after all, might be the only place where some co-workers see one another at the office, providing a key chance to interact on a human level – rather than while vying for position at Read the full article…