The world is changing faster than ever, yet there are still some antiquated features of our society that haven’t quite caught up to modern times. In order to stay relevant and continue to grow in the 21st century, individuals and companies need to be flexible, and they need to change. A good place to start might just be the office set-up itself – more specifically, the cubicles. Here are a few reasons why cube-world doesn’t have a place in the professional universe of the future.
(Photo Credit: David Noah1/Flickr)
Although 60 percent of office workers have a cubicle set-up, 93 percent of Americans say it is the absolute worst part of office life and that they’d prefer almost any other arrangement. Noise disturbances seem to be a major complaint, and although the same problem persists with an open floor-plan, this situation may be worse when you can’t see where the noise is coming from, as is the case with cubicles. Being distracted by sound wasn’t the only drawback though; research from the University of Sydney found that cubicle workers expressed the highest degree of dissatisfaction in 13 out of 15 categories, including lighting, air quality, and more.
2. They aren’t serving the purpose they were meant to serve.
Author of the book Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace, Nikil Saval, explained to Yahoo Finance that cubicles were originally meant to free workers from an open floor-plan and provide individuals some privacy. However, as offices became more overcrowded, (partially because they could be, as a result of cubicles) they’ve instead become a symbol of “a workplace that doesn’t really care about you.” The cage-like atmosphere “connotes dread, hatred, the terrible while collar life,” said Saval. So, if cubicles aren’t serving the purpose they were intend to serve but are instead eliciting and opposite response, isn’t it time to rethink them?
3. Times have changed and so have we.
Things have changed in the last few decades, and workers’ expectations have changed right along with them. Millennial workers are even more interested in the overall quality of their work-life than they are in the bottom-line value of their paychecks. Recruiting and retaining these workers means listening to their preferences and making adjustments. A study released just last month found that although millennials are about as unhappy at their jobs as workers from other generations, they’re thinking about resigning and moving on to something else at about twice the rate. All evidence suggests that this youngest generation of workers isn’t going to tolerate workplace, or space, dissatisfaction the way others have – so, the cubicles are going to have to go.
4. It’s not healthy.
Evolutionary psychology reminds us that environments that would have scared our ancestors won’t work for us either. Because we spent the bulk of our time as Homo sapiens ensuring our safety through keeping our distance from others, while also keeping an eye on them, small cage-like environments in close proximity to each other aren’t exactly ideal for our species. We also understand now that being able to at least see the outdoors is a good thing. Fresh air, on occasion, and/or some sunlight is also nice. When all of these factors are taken into account, the reasons why cubicles make most of us pretty miserable become obvious. Now the only question is, why are so many of us still working in them?
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