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The Current Wave of Office Fitouts Shrink as They Grow

By: Marcin Wichary

Office fitouts have been part of the work environment since the 1970s. The appearance of cubicles to create partitions combined a more open workspace while establishing a sense of privacy. As today’s modern technology keeps getting smaller in size, the need to accommodate devices has practically been eliminated. Whether it is in the home or out in the commercial realm, office space has morphed into an open area that has cut down on the need for expanded floor space and reduced the need for partitions and most of the furniture.

Less Form and More Function

With the pocket-sized accessibility everyone has embraced across the globe, this tech-savvy world of connecting with one another has blurred the lines between business and personal correspondence.

Let’s take a look at how the traditional office has changed in just a few short decades from the original idea of telecommuting:

  • Mobile laptops have limited the need for the dedicated space of desktop computers.
  • Cell phones have all but replaced land lines making access to personnel possible where ever they can receive a signal.
  • With cloud computing and digitisation the go-to method of documentation, greener pastures means significant paper reduction, if not complete elimination of paper files and all related printed materials.
  • Eliminating the need for extra file cabinets means there is far less need for the sizeable floor space typically occupied.

Such Transition is in Our Genes

While change is the constant that tends to meet the most resistance, when so many people adopt the methods of modern devices and communication, it is a natural progression to see the office fitouts complying with the need, or lack thereof. Following the example of tech companies that defer to the open office environment, more employers have realised tremendous overhead savings by reducing the square footage required to facilitate their work spaces.

Two surprising results occurring in this more communal work environment are:

1. Employees have not jumped ship in their resistance to such radical change, and
2. The noise levels went down, not up, as the walls and partitions came down.

There are distinctive generational differences where baby boomers are still attached to their classic sense of separation while Gen X and Millennials find the open-air office as liberating as it is bonding.

Overall, as the conventional office goes, so does the home office. Expect to see designers deferring to this trend in commercial fitouts making use of the most compact spaces as more people are able to work from home.