EntrepreneurInvestment Properties January 19, 2017

I Hate Cubicles

Key Takeaways: 

  • The Millennial Workforce is demanding open, collaborative work space
  • I’m pretty sure nobody has ever liked Cubes… seriously 
  • Advancements in wireless data transfer have assisted open-concept design 
  • Open-Concept office design affords flexibility and greater space-utilization to users 


I hate cubicles and it seems that I am not alone. Across the country, one of the trends sweeping office space design is that of open, collaborative work spaces. The millennial work force is demanding an office that is as open, airy, and as social as it is connected, wireless, and rich in amenities.  Gone are the days, at least for the foreseeable future, of dark, confined spaces that do not encourage social connections or work collaboration.  It has been estimated that as many as 70% of American workers now work in open-concept offices.


Our brokerage, Amherst Madison Legacy, has embraced this trend in our own office design. Several years ago, we had the opportunity to move into a new space with an extensive TI budget.  Our goal was to leverage this opportunity into an office space which represented consumer demand. We are one of the first real estate companies in Idaho to use a true “Open Concept” or “Flexible Office Space”. Our primary drive for creating this shared space stemmed from observations on how most realtors (and many employees in general) prefer to work, in 2017.  We observed that many Realtors preferred to work in open, energetic spaces with amenities including snacks and beverages. In fact, many people work from coffee shops that bring these elements together into one space. Our concept was to bring the coffee shop to the office! We sought to create a fun environment that was open and collaborative so that agents would want to come to the office for learning, energy, collaboration, and a refuel.  


In addition to the moral of our agents, the shared office space has been a fantastic way for us to remain flexible as we grow. We have a large open space that can be used as an agent lounge, flex work area, or meeting room for company meetings with more attendees. It has offered us space-use options that we would never have had otherwise.  That adaptability is one of the primary advantages I see with shared office space. It can be used for many different occasions and still can be made to look very professional. We have used ours for parties with as many as 150 people; as well as for small focus group and breakout sessions of 3-5 agents per group.  


The trend towards open-concept office design is not without its drawbacks.  One downside is getting buy-in from people who are more traditional in their mindset towards office space. It can be a bit of a mind shift for some to work right alongside others without a cubical or wall separating things out. Phone calls can be a bit difficult if you have loud talkers or many people on the phone at once.  Employees or Independent Contractors who are introverts may struggle more than extroverts. Open office spaces do not scale up in size as easily as traditional office designs. 


Our experience has been that these drawbacks are outweighed by the benefits to an open space. Additionally, a healthy mix of private office space and plentiful conference/breakout room options bring a good balance to the square footage dedicated to pure open-space design. Like it. Hate it. The open-space concept is here to stay. 


~Nick Schlekeway