For some employees, the work-from-home era has come to an end — but that doesn’t mean they’re willing to accept the office as it was.
Instead, they’re embracing an old-school but highly functional approach: walls, or, at the very least, cubicles.
Proponents of the “open” office setup might tout benefits like collaboration and transparency, but research confirms that high noise levels are as detrimental as they seem, causing physiological stress and heightening negative moods by 25%.
People want the privacy and personal space they’ve come to expect at home. In fact, Kristi Buchler, principal at Interior Architects, which helps companies plan workspaces, told WSJ that “seated privacy” is the latest buzzword in office design.
That doesn’t mean the drab, fully isolated cubicles of the past: Buchler says that many new designs use low walls topped with glass to provide employees “solitude when in their chairs,” but make it easy for them to “pop up” and see other colleagues in the space.
Another trend that’s been cropping up? Collaborative versus quiet zones. It’s a best-of-both-worlds approach that even WeWork, a leader in open-office planning, sees value in.
“Think quiet cars on the train,” Ebbie Wisecarver, WeWork’s global head of design, told WSJ. “These areas of our spaces are purposefully sectioned off and act as more of a library setting.”
One thing’s clear: While workers might have to go back to the office, they don’t necessarily have to accept the way it was.