It’s always amusing to see the pendulum swinging back and forth between the champions of the open office and the proponents of the cubicle. We blogged about the “Me Place” workstation back in July of last year. But the latest publicity at OfficingToday.com gave us a chance to check out the video featuring an interview with the designers of this piece. They are very careful not to call their invention a cubicle. The article about the un-cubes describes them thus, “This particular workstation range features enclosed desks with walls”. Hmm. Sounds a lot like a cubicle.
But the creators of the Docklands furniture range say this station is not intended to be used as a cubicle. The enclosures are smaller than a cubicle and not as fully equipped. Instead, these pods are intended to be:
- A touch down space for workers who aren’t always in the office
- Hotdesking workspaces for organizations with a frequently varying on-site headcount
- A temporary workstation for visiting clients who need privacy
- A location where employees can go when they need an escape from the hubbub of an open office
Basically, these tiny freestanding offices are a potential solution to the fact that the open office with no walls, no privacy, and too much noise simply doesn’t work for everyone all the time. The designers are calling this a new furniture typology.
Not Quite So New?
We think it’s a cozy and attractive design, but there’s an excellent article by Simon Keane-Cowell at Architon that demonstrates quite effectively that the idea of “semi-private, space-shaping furniture elements” has been around for a long time. The original forebears of the modern cubicle may simply have been introduced before the time was ripe for such ideas. According to Cowell, the reason the Action Office and other early designs were commercially unsuccessful may have been, “…that they were too progressive, that they weren’t so much responding to a shift in organizational behavior, but rather seeking to effect organizational-behavioral change through design.” Today’s open office plans could be accused of the same thing by attempting to force a collaborative atmosphere by how space is used.
The Open Office of the Future Won’t Be Quite So Open
In any event, the current trend seems to be moving toward a balance of open and enclosed work areas. No doubt Docklands and other, similar products will be a part of this solution. However, these changes won’t be cheap. Keane-Cowell points out, “There’s a not insignificant financial investment required to populate your office with bays, pods and hubs.” Of course, he doesn’t know that we have a product that can turn a freestanding desk into a pod in less than five minutes. But you know! Contact us to order desk-mounted privacy panels today and get a quick and affordable retrofit for your open office.