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Does open office space mean the end of personal space?

The continuing global trend of transitioning from an office with a door to open cubicles and collaborative work stations moves ahead. The average square footprint per worker will likely experience additional decreases over the coming years.

Is shrinking personal space for shared desks more about saving money on rent, or is it really about collaborating in a more social work environment?

These anticipated changes seem negative by some, exciting to others. Younger generations might prefer communal workspaces over disconnected cubicles. By 2020, work force experts predict that millennials will make up more than half of the global workforce.

Can this demographic shift have that much influence over how developers will build and architects design the workplace and office of the future? Statistics claim that the average footprint per employee in North America was approximately 225 square feet in the early 2000’s. Analysts predict the trend moving forward will see a drop to nearly 150 square feet per employee on the average.

Demographic changes means companies are re-thinking real estate decisions and how they would actually build and or occupy space.

Saved space from offices might be converted into social areas and separate collaborative work stations. Businesses expand on the ‘added amenities’ concept, including massive break rooms, ping-pong or foosball tables, and an expansive cafeterias. Large conference rooms are changing into smaller, more intimate places for privacy from open space and eaves dropping co-workers.

These changes extend to the design element of the office. Modern constructions with exposed ductwork and brickwork, high exposed ceilings, no sound absorbing concrete floors, and large glass windows for increased natural lighting have become commonplace. Change is no longer just about cost savings: rather, change comes from the necessary adjustments of your office demographics and the demands they place on company culture.

So I wonder…who really runs the business and its culture? Is it the C-Suite, or the next generation coming into the workplace?

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