By Jake Barrett
I hate cubicles. You know that guy who roams around the agency, parking on a random couch? Yeah, that’s me. I hate sitting in one position. In fact, sometimes I hate sitting in general, so I’ll go outside and lay on the grass (author’s note: GSD&M has the most beautiful, manicured plot of grass in Austin; it’s a thick green carpet of natural softness).
Of course, now that you know of my disdain for cubicles I’ll also tell you about my non-love of open floor plans; if I’m writing or creating a new Excel template, I often like to hole up somewhere I can focus and no one can bother me. Let me tell you, the guy walking in to the shower room at 9 a.m. was pretty surprised when I greeted him with a laptop and coffee in hand.
So which is a better office layout, the open floor plan or cube-land? Well, honestly I think both ideas are terrible; the simple fact is no one has truly explored any alternatives. In this world of polarizing opposites, one side always has to win. Those advocating for openness (This guy: Yahoo! article) want no walls and glass everywhere, while those advocating for more privacy (This guy: Fast Company article) desire individual offices with solid oak doors, brandy and leather-bound books. I find it funny because both sides seem to be arguing for the same idea of “freedom,” but with alternate definitions. For some people freedom is open space and insight into what everyone else is doing, but for others it’s the opposite. Office layouts are built to maximize the productivity of people, so to shoehorn a person into a layout that makes them uncomfortable doesn’t make economic sense.
I believe that there’s a third option for office layouts—a combination of free-flowing ideas and focus. Office spaces should be built to be flexible for people to work where and how they want to work. Build different spaces within the office, from sound-deadened small and secluded nooks for those who want to focus, to open-concept spaces with high tables, bar stools and flat screens for those who crave collaboration and conversation.
In my humble opinion, companies should ditch the entire idea of open concept vs. office space because either way, someone’s going to be unhappy; we should build our offices with many organic spaces that people feel comfortable in, whatever their working style is on a particular day. Anyways, since we’re on the topic of comfort, I just bought a hammock; I wonder how I can get that to work in my cube…