Which is better the Individual or Collaborative Workspace?

Jo Horbury
boardroom design leeds

Today’s post tackles the age-old debate of individual vs collaborative workspaces or the cubicle vs open-plan office design for getting the best out of employee’s debacle. This is a topic that is at the forefront of the inception of many new office designs and so we thought we would weigh-in on the debate as it is a great and pertinent topic to discuss.At Building Interiors our approach/statement in response to this argument is simple

The workplace of today must not be confined to one type but must be flexible and adaptive.

Purely open-plan office spaces implemented to increase innovation and collaboration amongst employees have been shown in numerous research studies to actually decrease the level of productivity in staff due to the increase in disruption surrounding them. In a study conducted by Gensler (2013) it was shown that 77% of employees instead preferred a quiet environment when they needed to focus. The archaic cubicle in many cases has been replaced by headphones to create a focused and private working environment.

However, though this evidence may seem damning in the face of open-plan workspaces what it instead indicates is the need for balance. It is creating a workplace that allows employees to focus when they need to in a quiet workspace but also to collaborate and engage with other employees. The onset of break-out spaces for group collaboration has already been a key identifiable trend and something that will only become more prevalent.

The debate instead now is autonomy of choice provided by a flexible and adaptable workspace based on your business and individual worker’s needs. By allowing workers to focus when they desire and collaborate when they desire, as found by the Gensler study, employees are much more likely to be effective, productive happy and innovative in their job role. Which proves the concept of a flexible workspace, that allows for collaboration and quiet time. Modern design allows for this with the introduction of ‘break out areas’ and working pods, allowing businesses to truly have the best of both worlds.