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Shared offices: from open space to desk sharing

Alexandre Dezitter

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Since the 1980s, our way of working has been constantly evolving. Largely influenced by new technologies, and particularly digital developments. In this image, professional spaces have also evolved. The new generation dreams of more inspiring, co-working spaces, more mobility, more communication and less hierarchy. But 77%* of French employees still go to work every day, so we’re still a long way from widespread teleworking. Shared or individual offices – what’s the trend?

For several years now, we have seen a trend towards decompartmentalization across Europe. By contrast, in France and Germany, the individual office is still holding out. choosing What’s the best choice these days? Shared offices to encourage communication between all employees, or individual offices to give everyone privacy?

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Shared or individual offices: which is right for you?

Closed spaces

Fans of the partitioned office put concentration first. Working in a closed office encourages concentration, as employees are less exposed to external noise pollution. Isolation gives a sense of security and personal space. Without noise, or with background music of their choice, employees feel in their element and are not confronted with external distractions. Privacy is therefore one of the strong points of enclosed spaces. The employee can relax and concentrate to perform better at work.

But enclosed spaces can be synonymous with a lack of communication between employees, and the partitions that separate them can hinder internal communication. What’s more, a closed office can encourage private use of the computer, which is a hindrance to the proper execution of professional tasks.

Open spaces

From the employee’s point of view, there are a number of advantages. Make way for communication! Working in an open-space environment encourages exchanges between users. Exchange flows are shorter, ideas cross more easily and exchanges are more instantaneous and frequent.

Employees work in a shared space and get to know each other more easily. No longer isolated, individuals integrate better into the group, and hierarchical links fade more quickly. Moreover, with the proliferation of open spaces within companies, new living spaces are emerging alongside work zones: places to relax and comfort zones conducive to informal, relaxed exchanges.

From an employer’s point of view, open-spaces are synonymous with space-saving and cost-efficiency. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that this type of layout offers great flexibility in the event of changes, and makes it easier to adapt to new ways of organizing work. Finally, it must be acknowledged that this concept allows for closer monitoring of employees and their performance.

Despite their advantages, group or open-plan offices can be prone to a number of ailments for employees. lack of privacy or comfort problems due to the community (heating, air conditioning, noise pollution…) are the most frequently cited. And it remains essential for the employer to listen to the users of these spaces to improve both visual andacoustic comfort.

A few figures: 32% of working people work in an individual office, 33% in a closed group office, 29% in a collective open space...

Flex office: in search of well-being

The concept flex office concept is shaping up to be the major trend of the next few years. Faced with a new generation of workers who are naturally nomadic and allergic to routine, the flex office is an obvious choice. What are the real benefits?

1# Flexibility: An employee’s tasks vary from day to day. Statistical analysis, data entry, content creation, brainstorming, project implementation… Choosing your work environment according to the day’s activity is a real factor in productivity.

Thanks to the flex office concept, employees can opt for :

  • teleworking if the task requires a high level of concentration without the need for social interaction.
  • an open-plan workstation in the company’s premises
  • a “meeting room” for important meetings
  • a brainstorming space for inspiration

2# Communication: Usually grouped together within the same department, employees rarely have the opportunity to communicate externally. The flex office concept breaks down barriers to enable everyone to connect easily, sharing ideas and knowledge.

Collaborative workspaces enable two people from different departments to meet face-to-face, and take the time to discuss current issues. Natural, simplified communication is created.

3# Creativity: In many fields of activity, creativity is essential. Creativity needs to be boosted by a number of factors: a place, an atmosphere, an exchange…

For Generation Y, there’s nothing worse than routine to stagnate in one’s comfort zone, an undeniable brake on creativity.

4# Optimize space: For companies, every square meter of unoccupied space represents a high cost. Space planning is all the more important when you consider that 40% of offices are unoccupied every day*.

With flex-office, a large proportion of these vacant m² can be turned into user-friendly, useful spaces.

So flex office, shared office or individual office?

Whether you opt for an open or closed space, their advantages or disadvantages will be revealed according to the personality of those who work there. Some professions, such as finance, lend themselves more to partitioned offices because they require greater confidentiality. Other professions, more conducive to exchanges, such as design offices, are better suited to open-plan offices.

Whether you’re looking for a shared office or an individual work space, a good work environment is first and foremost a question of corporate culture.

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Which spaces do you prefer and why?

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Alexandre Dezitter

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