If we asked you to picture a typical office, you’d probably think of a place with rows and rows of cubicles, a few conference rooms, and that all-important break room where workers enjoy their downtime, and endless squabbling over who stole which sandwich. But all that might be changing — the cubicle part, at least, if not the lunch thievery. More and more companies are ditching cubicles altogether and opting for open plan offices.
What these spaces lack in privacy, they make up for in flexibility and increased collaboration between workers. Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but they’re cheap to set up and maintain. For all these reasons, some of the biggest companies in the world are going over to open offices. Here are a few offices where cubicles are nonexistent.
SAP’s Palo Alto Campus
This brand-new, two-story, 42,000 square foot space was designed specifically for SAP’s cloud computing teams. Engineers work at wheeled desks and chairs and use movable whiteboards to develop their ideas. As a result, every part of the workspace is completely adaptable to whatever project the teams are working on at any given time. This flexibility is supposed to foster “lean, agile product development” — and eliminate ego.
“There are no cubes, no corner offices and everyone sits together in an open environment,” says VP Mike Tschudy. “This eliminates ego and hierarchy and encourages teamwork, collaboration, productivity and efficiency.”
Facebook’s New Pad on Hacker Way
The most common complaint about open plan offices is that there don’t offer enough privacy. Where are you supposed to go for a private phone call, a few minutes of peace, or even a good cry? Facebook solved this problem by installing old-fashioned phone booths, the kind that Superman used as a dressing room.
Other than that, though, it’s all open office all the time at Facebook, where not even Mark Zuckerberg has an office, and everyone works at a long table together.
Quick question, though: Do you get in trouble for wasting time on Facebook, when you work at Facebook? Maybe there’s less to hide from the boss when you already work at the nation’s number one time wasting site.
Google Has Open Plan Offices All Over the World
Google’s offices are famously funky. You can eschew rolling chairs entirely there, if you want, and work from a beanbag or a nap pod or a table at one of their cafes. Most interesting to us is how they’ve created flexible relaxation space based on the needs and vibe of each location. Their Manhattan office, for example, feature a terrace with views of the city, while their London office brings a park indoors.
All offices offer a variety of places to work and play, which makes perfect sense for a company that prides itself on the diversity of its employees’ interests, which include everything from beekeeping to dancing the foxtrot.