Now that cubicles are making a comeback, the ‘new’ office is starting to look a bit… well, old. I say new in inverted commas because the makeover was actually done nearly ten years ago. You’d be surprised at how time flies when you haven’t switched up your workplace for more than a decade, and things like a complete layout reboot seem to stick around in your mind as though they happened just yesterday.
You’d also be surprised at how much can change in a decade in terms of work space trends. Back in 2010, it was all about open plan environments and collaborative hotspots. Now people are coming back around, realising that perhaps we’ve been throwing out the baby with the bathwater to some extent. This is to say that cubicles provide a measure of personal space that may be lacking in some more open layouts – not that we should back to cubicles exclusively, but that it’s worth recognising that they may be of value for some office users.
No one believes me, but I’ve been thinking about this ever since we got that office fitout. Companies – Melbourne ones, anyway – all thought they’d cracked the code that would deliver the ideal work environment, yet I was sceptical. And now that the tides are turning back again, everyone can see my point of view in retrospect, but they won’t acknowledge that I’ve held this position from the start. It’s annoying.
I think people got this idea in their heads that cubicles were too commercial. Office design within Melbourne became focused on rejecting anything that whiffed of commerce, with virtually everyone all but oblivious to the irony of that. Not that there’s anything wrong with changing your tune and turning back to an earlier point, refining it and learning from your mistakes, but a whole lot of going around in circles could have been avoided.
Yet here we are again, due for another office redesign.