Goodbye to Personal Cubicles?

Are you the sort of person who needs a defined office space, with cute framed photos, plants, and an organized pencil drawer and filing system?

Those types of spaces are becoming increasingly rare in the workplace.

While the corner office used to be the coveted spot, now even upper management and executives find themselves working from temporary desks or sharing communal spaces with coworkers at all levels.

Why is this happening?  Lots of reasons.

First of all, we no longer need to store tangible paper filing systems, as most document filing systems live online.  This eliminates the need for a permanent physical location since workers can access their documents from anywhere in the world, as long as they have their laptop with them.

Simultaneously, the nature of jobs and workers has become much more transient.  Instead of staying in a job for 30 years, workers move from project to project, either within a company or across different companies.  They won’t likely sit at the same desk for more than a year.

Then there’s the fact that technology has made it easy to connect and collaborate without ever meeting face to face.  Many employees never even see their employer’s physical office.

According to this article by the WSJ, companies like American Express and GlaxoSmithKline are cutting costs and promoting collaboration with “unassigned workspaces” that are more like communal tables than desks.  These changes have their drawbacks, such as non-adjustable seating and lack of privacy, but for the most part companies and employees seem to enjoy the flexibility and sense of community they inspire.

As our worlds become increasingly virtual, in every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder that our cubicles now live on our desktops.

What do you think of the shift from permanent desks to transitional, shared spaces? Can you think of any benefits or drawbacks?  And what does this shift say about the nature of the workforce overall?

About TRC Staffing Services, Inc.


  1. More on the vanishing cubicle: is it a good thing? | Workforce Watercooler - June 29, 2012

    […] recently wrote on the vanishing cubicle.  Then we came across this article that focuses on perhaps the best reasons for the gradual […]

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