The term workspace defines itself, it is the space in which we work. History has shown us that that our workspace must change as the way we work changes.

The 1960s witnessed the rise of the open office plan. It called for cultivated chaos: desks grouped together in pods across a sprawling floor plan, with sightlines blocked by tall ferns and soundscreens, and not a private office in sight. The problem? People hated it. Open office plans mean noise, both visual and aural. People couldn’t concentrate because of the chatter and typing.

In the U.S., the open plan remained unchallenged until Robert Propst invented ‘the cubicle’. He concluded that office workers needed autonomy and independence- and therefore offered a flexible, three wall design that could be reshaped to any given need. The problems of the cubicle soon helped people forget the problems of the open office. In the 1980s and 1990s, giant mergers and mass layoffs of cubicle dwellers became commonplace. The flimsy walls of the cubicles began to symbolize, not independence, but disposability (Saval, N., 2014).

Today, environments that reflect employers’ corporate culture are in demand, as are sustainable or re-purposed interior materials. More employers also want to strike a balance between encouraging employee collaboration and addressing the need for quiet time and privacy in the workplace. (Livadas, S., 2014)

We know that the workspace we create will have an impact on our productivity and in a broader way will affect the way that we present ourselves to the community and the people we are here to help. When we feel like we are appreciated and are heard, we will be better able to function as a group. As we move into a larger workspace, we want to be able to take the things that have worked best for our employees in the past and incorporate those things into our new space.

We have been given the opportunity to create an environment that is inclusive to each of us individually and as a group.  We all have different backgrounds and cultures, and culture designates the expressive aspect of human existence. It’s fair to say that most notions of culture stem from assumptions rooted in either the humanities or the social sciences, particularly anthropology. And cultural objects compose part of a larger cultural system. (Griswold, W., 2013) When we look at it from humanities standpoint, we can see the cultural aspects of the artifacts with which we surround ourselves. Now we can look at how we decorate our new space from a different viewpoint.

As a product of the 1990s workplace, I started working in a time of abundance, when companies were able to give its employees everything they needed to succeed. That era was soon replaced by a financial recession that hit companies hard. I have seen both sides and while we are now in a place that we are able to grow and expand, I know this abundance may not last. For that reason, I believe that we should be financially conservative as we expand our workspace. We can grow in a way that is sustainable to us if times grow leaner.

“Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.” – David Cummings, Co-Founder, Pardot

References:

Saval, N. (2014, May 10). A Brief History of the Dreaded Office Cubicle. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-dreaded-office-cubicle-1399681972

Livadas, S. (2014, May 14). Workspace design morphs, reflects corporate culture. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://ezproxy.snhu.edu/login?qurl=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.proquest.com%2Fdocvier%2F1520000377%3Faccountid%3D3783

Griswold, W. (2013). Sociology for a new Century: Cultures and societies in a changing world. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi: 10.4135/9781452240534