With hoteling, cubicles, open air, closed doors and beyond, it's clear offices come in all layouts and sizes. What's best for one business might not be great for another. You want to choose the type of office that best suits your company's needs based on your team dynamics.
"No office layout is perfect," said Alexander Lowry, director of the Master of Science in Financial Analysis program and professor of finance at Gordon College. "To try and make it perfectly suited to your company and culture, consider the type of work you do and your office culture."
There are three big types, and various combinations thereof. Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics, outlined pros and cons of each to help you choose which one your business should run.
An open office has staff working in a single room, either sharing tables or working at independent desks in an unrestricted space.
"An office full of social people who need to work together to be successful would benefit from an open office layout versus cubes with high walls (or even offices)," said Lowry.
- Less restrictive
- Encourages communication
"Transparency and some lack of clear office hierarchy can do a lot to motivate a team," said Masterson. "Seeing your manager occupy the same space as you do, and having the ability to mingle more – it does something to the office vibe."
- Lack of privacy
- Spread of germs
Masterson said that many of these downsides, including feeling like your boss is watching your every move, often stress out employees.
Cubicles are partly enclosed workspaces with high walls to separate each worker from those around them. Lowry said that if your team needs peace and privacy to work, you'd do best with this setup.
"Recognize that some staff roles require concentration and an ability to get away from others/noise," he said.
- More private
- Easier to focus
- More room to work
- Personalized workspace
"It's not as if there are no distractions in this choice of layout, but a cubicle could be potentially quieter and more conducive to workflow and concentration," Masterson said.
- Can be isolating
- Requires more space
- Breeds less interaction
"In some cases, employees have associated cubicles with the soullessness and coldness of Corporate America," said Masterson.
Hoteling is a system of unassigned seating where employees frequently change workspaces. For example, if your team works from home or travels often, you don't need to invest in a permanent workspace for every employee; they can shift based on who is in on any given day.
"Hoteling works best if many of your staff travel," said Lowry. "Consulting is a classic example. Clients have your staff at their site. As a result, you don't need to pay for a lot of real estate, and your team, when they are occasionally in the office, can work from any desk."
- Saves money
- Encourages collaboration
- Changes scenery
"It makes for an easy getaway in case your current neighbors are too distracting or noisy," Masterson said. "Just change seats. Boom, problem solved."
- Causes confusion
- Less personal
"Unless you're aware of precisely where someone is sitting that day, it may be more difficult to locate them within the office space," said Masterson.
Additionally, he said, you need to be conscious of the fact that it isn't your desk. That means no pictures of your family, friends or pets, and no food or other items stored in the drawers.