Open offices are certainly not the answer for every type of office environment; however, there are many business that can benefit from making the switch from cubicles into an open office space. Some companies are able to forego cubicles and reconfigure their offices into open-concept workspaces that encourage collaboration, bolster creativity and increase workplace morale. If your employees are hidden away in cubicles and you’d like to embrace an open workspace, you’ll probably be relieved to hear that it may be possible to achieve that primarily by reusing what you already have on hand.
Modify, Retrofit and Repurpose
If your office is equipped with low or stackable cubicles, you’re in luck: These can easily be reconfigured and reused by skilled office furniture installers. Cubicles can be dismantled into individual pieces that can be put back together to create the types of workstations favored in open workspaces. These workstations usually have low or no panels. Panels from dismantled cubicles can also be cut down or otherwise altered to fit into an open workspace.
Keep in mind that dismantling a cubicle is more difficult than it may sound, especially if you’re planning to reuse the components. Top cubicle manufacturing companies, including Allsteel, Haworth, Herman Miller, Steelcase, Tennsco, etc. all have detailed instructions for setting up and dismantling their products. If their instructions aren’t followed, you could void any warranty you may have in place.
Cubicles Can Be Repurposed
Some accessories and items found in cubicle designs can be reused
Cubicles are known for their walls, but within those walls are work surfaces, electrical outlets, pedestals, files, tack boards and other office staples that are interchangeable in a cubicle or an open workspace. Reusing these items will significantly reduce the cost of transforming the layout of your office. The biggest expense associated with converting an office full of cubicles into a more open space will probably be skilled labor to plan and oversee the job and to carry out the physical work. Fortunately, you can realistically expect to recoup those costs quickly in the form of increased worker productivity and employee retention.
Features of Great Open Workspaces
If you’re interested in eliminating your office cubicles in favor of an open workspace, it’s important to partner with a company that has extensive experience designing office spaces and adding and removing workstations and meeting areas in offices. An experienced office furniture installer will be knowledgeable about the features that make open workspaces effective. These include creating a space with different “zones” for privacy and quiet, collaboration and discussion, meetings and taking breaks and creating a space where the location of individual workstations has been thoughtfully planned out.
Converting an office from a “cubicle farm” to a more open workspace does involve a bit of disruption and expense. Though, in the long run, it may boost your office's productivity, it also will make it much easier to accommodate a growing or shrinking workforce. And, it also will cut down on overhead expenses, including utilities (open workspaces allow for
Published in July 2017. Revised May 2019.