Office spaces have been developed and redeveloped for nearly a century now. The early 1930’s developments in Taylorism prioritized worker productivity and efficiency above all else, with little consideration for worker comfort and happiness. In the 1950’s, Bürolandschaft — with the aim for a more free-flowing, less rigid design — led to a confusing and chaotic workplace. As recently as the 1980s, the concept of the cubicle farm sowed dread with its sterile and claustrophobic spaces that sapped individuality and enjoyment from employee’s work.

Approaching the late 2000s and the 2010s, the rise of tech start-ups has led to a new trend in office design: the collaborative workspace. Nowadays, there are even spaces that exist where multiple different companies share the area; allowing freelancers and individual start-ups the opportunity of networking while working on personal projects.

But is this new wave in office spaces a good idea for everyone?

What is the Collaborative Workspace?

A collaborative workspace is just as its name suggests: it is a space in your office or organization meant to encourage collaboration and cooperation between workers. These types of places are designed with openness in mind with the floorspace containing as few walls as possible. This whole open-concept paradigm is extremely popular in Silicon Valley: with tech giants like Google being their most popular adaptors.

Separated desks and torn down walls lead to wide sitting areas for casual conversation. Much of this design shift can be attributed to the increased portability of technology. Laptops and tablets as well as cloud technologies have allowed workers ready access to their workspace anywhere in the office they go. Besides these, smaller modular office furniture has been developed with the aim of being able to create collaborative spaces quickly and easily.

This lends to an office space that seems warm and inviting. A friendly, welcoming place meant for creative endeavors and an agile, quick-as-a-pulse workstyle.

The Issues of a Collaborative Workspace

But these sorts of workspaces don’t work for all industries. While collaboration is very much the ideal for tech companies deal with very wide-ranging problems, other industries have little need for this and actually need enclosed spaces.

First of the issues facing these collaborative workspaces is the lack of privacy. While the open-concept workspace allows the free exchange of ideas, most employees like having a sense of privacy and a space in the office to call their own.

Secondly, there is the problem of confidentiality. If your business is a medical laboratory, a doctor’s office, or a law firm, client confidentiality is paramount. Meeting and consultations and testing procedures must be done in enclosed spaces where news can be broken and deals can be made without the threat of other people overhearing you.

The Enduring Importance of Modular Office Walls

The free-flowing nature of an open-concept collaborative workspace is more suited for industries where skills are more easily transferable like tech start-ups. Employees are able to move between projects with more ease so an environment where fellow programmers and network engineers can speak and collaborate is important for the overall productivity of the workplace.

In a business like a doctor’s office or law firm however, there is less need for collaboration, because the skills required between positions are not transferable, and more a need for discretion and order. The accountant doesn’t have much in common skills wise as the lawyers of the firm and the receptionist doesn’t carry the same knowledge as the resident doctors. In these sorts of businesses as well, there are severe ramifications for leaked information so it’s important that these office spaces allow for as much privacy as possible. This is why modular office walls like the ones IMT offers are as important now as they were a decade ago. These walls provide discrete spaces for conducting business while still allowing for open concept spaces if needed.

Products like our Clearflex line of glass modular office walls allow for a clear view of the rest of the workspace while still providing proper boundaries between different sections and departments. A completely open concept office can be confusing for clients visiting a business that has functions that do not always overlap. Having clear glass partitions between the different sections of your business still lends itself to this open concept feel while still maintaining order.

Meanwhile, our Reflex line affords your office with the important private spaces where you can assist your clients in a more intimate, confidential setting. Available in full panels, brickwork, or duo-segmentations with glass or laminate. This wide range of choices allows you to design your workspace with the perfect balance of full privacy or partial openness while maintaining a consistent aesthetic throughout the office area.
Modular office walls also come with them the ease of renovation and redesign. This affords the business owner the opportunity to restructure the office space for lower prices as disassembly and reassembly are simpler with no waste of new materials.

Allow your company the balance of openness and privacy with IMT’s wide range of Modular Office Design solutions. Contact us here or call us at 416-743-4513 for more information on our products and to request a quote for your office space.

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