Disruption has caused many companies, ideas, and products to vanish. Things that were once helpful are made redundant, while newer, better, faster, cooler items shadow them for future use. The cubicle had taken the same path. Made to look like yesterday’s news, while coworking, shared spaces, and open workspaces were so cool, sexy, and current.
I have been on numerous calls this week, with thought leaders, speculating what the new office environment will look like. Discussions of the 6′ office, or moving employees to a permanent work from home environment, and what that will mean for the future of Real Estate and re-entry have been fascinating. It dawned on me that the cubicle may have had it right and is primed for a comeback. We all love a functional recovery, and let’s be honest, keeping paneled walls 5 or 6 feet high, may not look as “cool,” but it sure could be healthier. CORT has been providing workstations for years to our clients for various enterprise client’s flex space needs. The workstation requests have gone down, as we, too, jumped on the bandwagon and brought in new products to support the growing trend of collaboration and open workspaces. We are sorry, cubicle, forgive us.
Office Space, They had it Right
If you’re old enough to remember the 1999 movie, Office Space, which documented what I believe was the beginning of the death of the cubicle. The film is set in a sea of grays and features what is probably rented cubicles from CORT, as we do support temporary furniture for many feature film productions. In a Huffington Post article last year, there was a bit of insight into 20 lessons we can learn from the movie Office Space. One was that employees want more privacy in the office. The article states that, in real life, more offices have moved toward open-plan spaces without clear divisions between where one desk starts and ends. This was intended to break down the walls between workers and encourage collaboration. But employees actually need personal space to function. The cubicle could be the answer to both cooperation and health.
The Evolution of Coworking
I have attended many coworking conferences and had discussions with our clients in the business of coworking. It was with great surprise when I learned that the private office is still the most in-demand at these coworking centers. I wonder if that would have been the case if Wework, and like companies, had opted for the tried and true cubicle, instead of the open-plan they have today. Could cubicles be the answer to getting our employees back at work sooner and keeping them healthy? Will they make employees feel safer, secure, and that they have a place to call their own. Employees will want to know that their work areas are clean and not used by multiple people in a day. I know I would feel better with a move in this direction.
The Rebirth of the Cubicle
We all love a good comeback story, and we all want to get back to work. The quickest way there is getting your employees back and keeping them safe. Thank you, cubicle, we always loved you. Good-bye open plan, maybe we will see you again, too.
This article was originally written by Beverly Steele, CORT’s Director of Strategic Business Development, on April 16, 2020. Looking for new opportunities in your workplace? Follow Beverly on LinkedIn for more tips on how to use CORT’s Furniture as a Service™ in your workplace.