Workplace Strategy: Inside Or Outside the Box?

Should your plan for your office be a “cube farm”, or should you let your employees be “free range”? The answer depends on your workplace strategy and environment.

Photo Credit: <a href="">archie4oz</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a> It’s a commonly held belief that cubicles of any height or space stifle productivity by isolating an employee from his or her coworkers. They are often seen as tiny, cramped cells with no room for the human spirit to attain greatness. Consider this, however; Albert Einstein’s desk was so crowded that there was barely room to jot down notes, and his blackboard was less than a third the size of the blackboards and/or whiteboards that so many of us grew up learning on. Such a lack of space did nothing to stifle his genius. In fact, it may have encouraged it thanks to its insulating qualities that kept him free of distractions while he was working.

Yet there are many who feel constrained by such walls. With a sense of claustrophobia looming all around an employee, the very things built to keep out distractions can become a distraction themselves. A yearning to get up and move nags into productivity and the work suffers as well as the employee.

So what is the middle ground? How can your office space design best promote employee engagement? The first thing you should look at is what sort of working environment you want to foster. Competitive and cooperative work environments have different needs.


A competitive work environment would welcome walls and barriers that allow an employee to focus on his or her own goals and performance. By having no means of glancing over to see how the other guy is doing an employee is encouraged to do the best that they can, not just to do better than the next guy.


A cooperative work environment benefits from employee interaction. The free exchange of ideas and inspiration allows an entire team to meet and exceed challenges.

The Middle Ground

The fact is that no office space is entirely one way or the other. Even a highly competitive sales office needs to have mixture of private space and common space to keep your team from cutting each others’ throats.  As well, regardless of the work environment there are employees who may be more creative in their own space. There’s also a potential problem for a drop in productivity if employees feel encouraged to socialize too much at work.

To balance this, ask yourself if your business would benefit more from open employee interactions or from having your employees able to focus on their tasks with minimal distractions. Whichever one you choose, you’ll also want to provide either a small common work area where employees can coordinate their efforts or else small private areas where employees can concentrate without others imposing on them. By providing a little bit of both, you can allow your individual talent to shine where they can do best, whether with a group or on their own.

In selecting your office space, contact us to see how we can help you find the one that will best fit your workplace strategy.

By: James Osgood

Photo Credit: archie4oz via Compfight cc