With different schools of thought on office arrangements and a growing emphasis on workplace productivity, it can be tough to know which option that suits your company. While on one hand, you want to consider your company culture and branding, you need to also think about how to shape workspaces for employee performance. While we’ve discussed the pros and cons of the open floor plan office, let’s take a look at the benefits and disadvantages of the other end of the spectrum: cell offices.
What are cell offices?
In the traditional sense, cell offices are those in which each individual has their own office with four walls and a door. There is little open or communal area and virtually all management and employees have their own individual space. Having trouble thinking where you’ve seen this type of workspace layout? Think about doctors offices, traditional law firms and other corporate entities.
When those working in cell office layouts do need to collaborate, host meetings, or arrange small gatherings, these offices do typically include larger cells that suit these purposes. When privacy is still needed, but multiple people are involved, these areas can prove to be quite useful in the right settings.
While some people have dreamed of climbing a corporate ladder to achieve a coveted “corner office,” and others see cell offices as being restricting or even lonely, they do serve for several purposes in the right environment. Whether or not those purposes fulfill your organization’s needs may be something for you to consider.
How cell offices affect productivity
When we discussed open floor plan offices, we talked about how easy it may be for workers to become distracted by conversation around them, or be easily interrupted by colleagues. Essentially, cell offices erase these problems. When you are in isolation you can truly focus on the tasks at hand, limit interruptions that can affect your workplace productivity, and also easily convey to others when you are or aren’t available.
On the other hand, you should consider that if there is any need for collaboration between your team members, cell offices can hinder open dialogue since colleagues can feel less approachable. But if your organization is focused on creating a culture of communication, camaraderie and teamwork, you can work to instill these values within your company dynamics to ensure that your employees aren’t isolated.
Who should use cell offices?
For companies who demand high focus individual tasks, a cell office may be the best solution for productivity concerns and ensuring that employees are able to do their best work. Think about the practices mentioned previously: lawyers and doctors often do a significant amount of research and one-on-one consultations. Because of this, cell offices are in fact necessary in order to limit distractions to others, keep a level of privacy and stay focused on the immediate need in front of them. If your company does similar work, or has a need for any type of discretion, the cell office environment may be in the best interest of your employees.
It is important to note that the cell office design can require a much larger space to be successful. Cells should be comfortably sized and appropriate for the work that is done there. Because of this, there may also be a higher cost associated with cell office spaces, depending on the size of the team of employees who all require individual rooms, with additional conference areas. If you want to read more about how to plan your space cost effectively, read up on how workplace analytics can benefit your business.
What are benefits are there with cell offices?
Higher sense of privacy.
Lower noise levels.
Employees can create "their own" space, with personalised equipment, lightning and temperature.
Lower sick absence. A Danish study from 2011 concludes that employees working in cell offices have a lower grade of sick absence.
What are the drawbacks with cell offices?
May hinder collaboration and dialoge between employees.
May create a sense of isolation.
May decrease communication within the organisation.
More office space needed.
When designing a working environment, you want to ensure that your team is as equipped as possible to do their jobs well. Cell offices could, in fact, be what you’re looking for to ensure that your staff is focused and maximizing workplace productivity. Regardless, in every case, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each type of working space and what your company and employees really need to be happy and efficient in their jobs.
Unsure what design you should choose for your office? We have a wide knowledge on different settings – from activity-based workplaces to the open floor plan. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need any help!