The Incredible Shrinking Office: Work Spaces Get Smaller

By Chad Brooks Career BusinessNewsDaily

Indian employees at a call centre provide service support to international customers, in the southern city of Bangalore March 17, 2004. The hiring frenzy at call centres in India is the flip side of daily tales pouring out of the US and Britain, ... where thousands of software and back-office jobs are being cut as companies take advantage of cheap communications offshore to drive down costs. India is the undisputed leader of emerging markets to which developed economies are outsourcing high-technology jobs, IT consultancy firm Gartner said in a report released on Wednesday. The $3.6 billion industry in India is seen rocketing to 13.8 billion by 2007 with the number of jobs quadrupling to 1 million. Picture taken March 17, 2004. REUTERS/Sherwin Crasto SC/ (Reuters)

Employees who feel their place in the office is diminishing are probably right, at least from a literal standpoint.

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A new study by corporate real estate firm CoreNet Global discovered that the average amount of space each employee has to himself or herself in the office is 150 square feet, down from 225 square feet in 2010. That number is projected to drop even further, to 100 square feet, within the next five years, the study found.

The diminishing office space comes as employers are starting to ramp up hiring. Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed are projecting increases in employment at their companies, triggering what researchers call a "property paradox," in which more workers are using less individual space.

A leading factor in the demise of employee personal space has been the monumental shift among corporate offices toward open-space floor plans with fewer assigned cubes and individual offices. More than 80 percent of the businesses surveyed have already started moving in this direction, with 43 percent now having more collaborative space, than heads-down, private space where employees can focus.

However, that trend may be coming to an end. One-half of those surveyed said they weren't sure if the overbuilding of collaborative space would come at the expense of productivity and privacy.

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"Through this survey, and anecdotally, we are hearing of a collaborative-space bubble," said Richard Kadzis, vice president of strategic communications for CoreNet Global. "Just as we have escaped the 'cube farms of Dilbertville,' some employees may start to feel that the open-space pendulum has swung too far, at the expense of a worker's ability to concentrate without interruption or distraction."

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Kadzis said executives should approach workplace management as a holistic practice, starting at the C-suite level.

"Workplace strategy is no longer a singular function of real estate, but a product of taking into account the needs and demands of the business, and how real estate should work with human resources, information technology, finance and other support functions to support overall organizational planning," he said.

Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+. The story originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

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