Open plan means cubicles

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005 at 10:38am

For some unknown reason I thought that an open plan office was different to a cubicle farm. I was picturing some marvellous utopia where everyone was comforable and, most importantly of all, productive. What was I thinking?

This has come up today because in the weekly team meeting at work we were shown the basic layout for the promised refurbishment of the space we moved into two and a half months ago and we are getting cubicles. Half of the area will contain fourty four brand new modular corner desks separated by 1500mm partitions…

For the past two hours I have been trying to find anything on the internet that isn’t trying to sell cubicles and says that they make for a happy productive office. The closest I found were lists of rules that may make it tolerable. Two of these are:

One humourous page that I found was in response to company cubicle guidelines:

Joking aside I did find a series of construction technology updates from the Institute for Research in Construction which is part of the Canadian National Research Council:

I only skimmed through these updates but I understand that their research found that variations in job function and working style negated the benefit of giving everyone the same identical workspace and that there was a lot that could be done to customise the individual environments that typically was not done…

One good thing about the plan that we were shown is that they have moved the main meeting room into the centre of the building. The room that the previous occupants used as their meeting room required thick blackout curtains on all the windows (two sides) in order to use the projectors…

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