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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, October 11, 2005 12:29 PM
Whither the cubicle?
Curt Rosengren on Business

I've never worked in a cubicle. As an employee, I always had an office, and self-employment finds me even farther away from any cubicle walls (right now I'm on my couch).

But I've heard enough stories about cubicle life to know that they can be from ideal. And according to this article, they are barriers to interaction and productivity. As an alternative to the traditional cubicle farm, companies are starting to design spaces that allow more of a free-range employee approach.

The article points to Muzak's office as an example.

The company 'created a city in a box,' based on the Italian piazza model...The result is a complex of transparent offices and shared workstations set along boulevard-like aisles, all spilling into open areas.

The open architecture 'allows for impromptu meetings ... and a better exchange of ideas,' Vigeland says.

The article goes on to describe the ideal free-range office space.

His idyllic workplace borrows from a European model, where wireless laptops allow employees to work where needed - kind of a hipper version of the pre-cubicle office, without the rows of assigned identical desks and gray in-boxes.

'People feel everything needs to be done in one space,' he says. Ideally, 'you'd be working all over the place.'

What do you think? Should the cubicle be a thing of the past? How much does the work environment impact communication and productivity? What kind of environment has worked best for you?


class - 10/12/2005 2:53:05 PM
cool add
Jenny - 10/12/2005 9:18:57 AM
Compared with the open-plan office you describe, I tend to prefer the high-walled cube farm, strangely enough. I get distracted pretty easily by people moving and talking around me, and it's hard for me to get into 'the zone' when there's so much noise. I write for a living, so I really need that period of deep focus for as long as possible to be truly productive. High cube walls are good for me because they mark out my space and help shield me from co-workers' noise. It also allows me to choose when I collaborate and when I put my head down and just work. I suppose open-plan offices work well if the office culture is such that people still respect others' space regardless of what's physically apparent. The times I've worked in such open spaces, or even low-walled cubes, it seemed more of a mechanism of managerial control than one of fostering collaboration.
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 10/11/2005 2:14:45 PM
There's an art gallery that is currently showing an installation of opaque and translucent boxes. They are all piled one on the other in various forms of sculpture. Makes one think of a big ice cube tray..It also got me thinking about cubicles. When I worked in the relocation industry there were two companies that I loved to have to go to. One was Nortel...( I know Nortel who?) and the other was Husky Injection Moulding. These corporations had designed places with people in mind. Streets, boulevards, open air sitting rooms...Husky had also included an indoor and an outdoor waterfall, a relaxing room, daycare on site, a menu that included vegan, fresh food and other cultural differences and an onsite, amazing, fitness room. I also worked with people in the film industry. Their places were lofty, crafty, hardwood floors, pool tables and places to dance and sing...If I were to be in a work environment that was not my own business these would be places I would seek out. Living la vida fearless, Jan


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