Some would say a cubicle is a cubicle, but that statement is definitely not accurate today. Cubicles offer unlimited design possibilities if you can think outside the box. What are the latest trends in workstation design? How can you incorporate cubicles in office environments to save money while, at the same time, making your employees feel comfortable and inspired to do their best work?
The way we work has changed dramatically since panel system office cubicles first came on the market 50 years ago. We once occupied fixed spaces every day and could easily be boxed into small cubes with our landline telephones and desktop computers. Today, we’ve evolved to a mobile environment where we can work from just about anywhere on the planet. And workplace design solutions have adapted accordingly.
Here are some of the latest trends in office design:
Video – In-person meetings are still valuable, but video technology enables us to have high-quality interactions with colleagues who are thousands of miles away without being in the same room. Most new office designs include spaces designed for video conferencing, complete with proper lighting and great acoustics.
Comfort – We spend long hours today working on desktop and laptop computers. The end result is neck and back strain. Ergonomic workstations and office chairs have replaced uncomfortable tables and chairs to enhance our comfort and preserve good posture. Some companies have installed reclining furniture, hammocks, or integrated workstations that allow employees to sit, stand or lie down to get comfortable.
Exercise – As we become more health conscious, we recognize that sitting in an office cubicle all day is not helping our overall fitness. U-shaped desks are available that can be placed above a treadmill so employees can walk while working. Some companies have incorporated workout rooms or even full basketball courts to encourage their staff to exercise.
Of course, there is no single solution or space that fits every situation, and many companies have incorporated office cubicles into unique work environments that inspire their employees and make the workspace more user-friendly.
Instead of rows and rows of boxy walled-in cubicles, businesses have embraced the idea of creating office “themes”, such as Inventionland’s Pittsburgh facility, which features 15 “sets”, with castles, pirate ships and space scenes.
Pixar, the animation giant, decorates their space with life-sized movie characters and colorful cubicles customized to each employee’s personal tastes. And BFG Atlanta, a marketing firm, created a full-blown skate park theme out of materials used in professional outdoor skate parks, complete with graffiti artwork on the walls. It’s considered one of the city’s top places to work.
When faced with the challenge of designing a pleasant, worker-friendly environment in its high-security data center that is 100 feet underground in an old Cold War era nuclear bunker below Stockholm, Sweden, Pionen simulated daylight, and added greenhouses, artificial waterfalls, a huge salt water fish tank, and a space-themed conference room.
Of course, elaborate themes like these are not the norm, but they illustrate what is possible today in office design. Companies like EthoSource offer frames and tiles in a vast range of colors, finishes, fabrics and laminates that will help you incorporate cubicles in office environments to highlight your brand and create inspirational workspaces for your employees and clients.