Steelcase correctly predicted the rise of the “collaborative” workspace. And we think they’re probably right about the pendulum swinging back in the other direction. No, we’re not going back to the era of private offices. Many businesses aren’t even going back to separate cubicles with higher walls. But they are realizing that a completely open office design hasn’t created an optimal work environment for most workers. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that employees need separation as much as they need togetherness. It’s a matter of finding the right balance.
According to an article published in CIRE magazine, Steelcase says that the idea of private enclaves is definitely catching on in the coming years. These tiny rooms are just large enough for a couple of pieces of lounge furniture and a table. It’s a cozy meeting space for a small team, a private phone booth for employees juggling work and personal life, or a “do not disturb” area for occasional bouts of intense focus.
Making Space for Concentration
Steelcase reports that one of their clients actually had an entire wall of these tiny enclaves with a sofa, desk, chair, and data/electricity ports installed. In other words, the private office is making a sneaky reappearance. But instead of being allocated to specific employees, these spaces are being allocated to certain activities. It’s an approach that makes sense if you have the cash to remodel your layout. Using architectural walls instead of drywall can cut costs, of course.
But the least expensive way to create this type of enclave is probably by converting some larger cubicles. A 12×12 “manager” cubicle would definitely be big enough to create a small getaway space. Even an 8 x 10 would be sufficient for two person team efforts. Simply add cubicle panel extenders to raise the walls above head height and create the sense of visual and acoustic privacy that employees still need. You could also add panels to a couple of tables in a corner, attach desk mounted privacy panels and put in some lounge seating to complete the space.