Why The Traditional Office Setup Is On Its Way Out

The traditional office setup is known for its emphasis on detached professionalism as a means to heighten productivity. Its core philosophy is one of cold stoicism –that for the duration of your nine-to-five, the only thing that matters is turning a profit and maximizing your output.

Emploiyees working in cubicles
photo credit: Moresheth / l

At a glance, this looks like a perfectly fine way to run a business; after all, what employer wouldn’t want a staff of composed of highly efficient, single-minded automatons? But as it turns out, a growing number of businesses are doing away with the unfeeling mode of decades past, and preferring the dynamism and vibrancy of office spaces for rent like Common Desk or custom-designed ones of their own.

This phenomenon owes itself to a complex tangle of factors, best distilled into three themes: traditional offices are static, dull, and less human.

Traditional Offices are Static

Uninspired employee at a static office

There was a time when the average week for even the most cutting-edge businesses were fairly predictable. News was slow to arrive, technology and techniques were slow to develop, and consumer taste was fairly stable.

That isn’t the case anymore, with 21st Century business a flurry of data and rapidly-shifting demands. It’s no surprise that virtual offices (e.g. thecommondesk.com), designed for dynamic workplace interactions and the quick transfer of industry news and technical knowledge among varied tenants, are rising in popularity.

Predictable workplaces, simply put, are the death of teams and organizations that have to contend with unpredictable circumstances. Standardized cubicles and floor layouts that make it difficult for team members to sit, work, and discuss with one another are slowing businesses down as a cost for an outdated fixation with robotic focus.

Traditional Office Spaces are Dull

Dull office space
photo credit: Alex O’Neal / Flickr

Changing with the nature of work is the nature of workers. The baby boomer generation was content with slogging through a professional career with their eyes fixed on career advancement, pay raises, and crafting a reputation for the quick and efficient delivery of service. But as you track younger and younger generations, you find that the job is far from everything, and the bar for workplace contentment rises.

Most averse to the philosophy that work is everything are millennials, who are particularly insistent on flexible working conditions. The younger cohort is most at home working in settings that can deliver a vibe of vibrancy, where the stress of working life isn’t accented by colorless walls and drab office decor.

Traditional office spaces, in their pursuit of efficiency, tend to eschew touches of color and fun to favor white, black, and gray. Ironically, studies show these palettes stunt focus and creativity –best opt for a color that matches the demands of the job.

Traditional Office Spaces are Less Human

Office cubicles

The biggest change in the habits and values of young professionals is an increasing demand for work to feel more human. This comes in different forms, from a conscious need to interact for leisure throughout the day to a clamor for flatter organizational structures.

The workplace demands a more human touch, and this extends to its design. Professionals shun implicit reminders that their jobs are less important than those of the people in executive offices strategically placed to act as watchdogs over lesser workers. They’re sick of corporate platitudes, being chained to their desks, and being told when to take a break.


Happy and productive employees

Energy, vibrancy, and agency attract skilled labor in today’s economy. Offices that reflect this in their layouts and furnishing can be expected to stand out, while stubborn traditionalism and fixating on outmoded values could cost a business more than it helps their bottom line.