Office-Less Office Trend

If your company follows the office-less trend, you could come to work to find your desk gone.

According to the Wall Street Journal, many companies are eschewing the traditional assigned cubicle/office layout and are instead opting for open, unassigned desks in an effort to cut costs and increase innovation and productivity. Often called “free address” or “non-territorial offices,” communal tables are used on a daily basis by various employees.

Employees can store their files and supplies in storage lockers. Depending on the policy, desks can be reserved in advance or they are on a first come, first-serve basis.

Shrinking the office’s footprint can cut millions of dollars annually in rent and energy expenses. In addition to cutting costs, placing workers closer together decreases internal email significantly and companies hope it will foster increased collaboration and creativity. Many companies have embraced the new open mobile floor plan to cut costs and accommodate an increasingly mobile workforce that doesn’t necessarily need a permanent office space anymore.

American Express has adopted this trend of shifting large groups of workers to shared spaces. Roughly 20% of 5,000 workers at the company’s New York headquarters are “club” employees, who come into the office a few days of a week and use unassigned spaces to work. The employees are part of a companywide program called BlueWork, intended to spur creativity and save money by doing away with traditional office space.

Kimberly D. Elsbach, a management professor at The University of California, Davis, researched the effects of non-territorial offices on workers. Most were able to adapt to the more transient space, but some felt a loss of identity by not being able to personalize their own space. Others felt less organized without a place to put their things. Still, a recent study of 950 companies found that 60% had unassigned workspaces incorporated into their offices.

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