RESOURCE: Why is the Workplace Shrinking?

I’ve been reading bit about the decades-long trend of office space per employee shrinking and thought I’d share some of those resources with you.

1) Office Walls are Closing in on Corporate Workers

According to the article, “American employers used to calculate anywhere from 500-700 sqft of office space per employee. Now however, employers allocate somewhere around 200 sqft on average. Those numbers include floorspace that isn’t allocated specifically for an employee like conference rooms or lunch areas.”

Vincent points out, “Companies have been gradually dialing back on office size and grandness for years, but the recession accelerated the trend as sobered owners let go of their old floor plans and tried new ways to speed productivity, attract talent and cut costs.”

2) Office Work Space is Shrinking, But That’s Not All Bad

The article discusses how the trend advances due to both cost-cutting and company culture.

Intel for instance has been quietly moving to a more collaborative office culture that has had a side benefit of space savings. “By allotting less space per person, companies can squeeze more employees — sometimes double or triple as many — onto a floor. One newly redesigned floor of Intel’s campus can now accommodate 1,000 people, up from 600.”

Other companies, the article notes, have had to downsize floorspace due to shrinking budgets because of poor economic conditions. However, some have found the increased density to bring on increased productivity due to increased interaction.

3) Goodbye Office Space? The Shrinking American Cubicle

While this article takes a more cubicle-centric approach, it has some interesting points about why spaces are shrinking.

“With flat screens replacing clunky monitors and the growing popularity of wireless products, such as such as laptops, iPads and BlackBerries, some managers say cubicles no longer make sense for workers who don’t need to be tethered to their desks. And employees in the younger, more tech-savvy generation embrace the idea of working remotely and from different spots in the office.”


To pull all of the articles together, it seems that the following are the key reasons why office shrinking is taking place:

  • Changing Generational Preferences
  • Changing Technology Allowing Mobile Workers
  • Increased Productivity Through New Workplace Models
  • Cost-cutting

Leading image from TIME