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Upclick recently decided to abolish its cubicles and adopt the open office concept. Over the last few weeks, our team has been pleasantly transitioning into our new bright and wide 30, 000 square feet workspace. Michael Dadoun, Upclick’s CEO stated: “As a company that focuses on innovation, transparency and simplicity, we must adapt to the changes in the marketplace by fostering a better environment for our employees and implementing those qualities in our workspace”.

The open office concept isn’t new. According to the International Facility Management Association, 70 percent of U.S. offices are either completely or partly open. A trend that originally started in Silicon Valley and is growing more and more popular in Canada, it was adopted early by Google, and now Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has unveiled the world’s largest open floor plan spanning 430,000 square feet.

The whole premise of having fewer divisions between employees is to promote collaboration, brainstorming and sharing. These aspects in turn increase innovation, an asset that every company strives to attain.

Indeed, Google’s proposition for killing the cubicle was this simple formula:
Discovery + Collaboration + Fun = Innovation

Despite the apparent popularity and enthusiasm for this modern workplace flow, there are divided opinions on the pros and cons regarding the way it affects the productivity of the employees.

The New Yorker published an article examining studies and surveys conducted on employees and their reactions to the lack of cubicles. Most of the findings revealed that although employees enjoyed the more laid-back aspect of the open concept, many found the noise and distractions such an environment can foster to be bothersome. As a result, they experienced decreased concentration and productivity, due to the lack of both visual and sound privacy.

However, this lack of privacy is the exact reason why we have been feeling more like a community at Upclick, and less like a monotonous corporate institution. Overall, Upclick team members are coping well with the noise, which seemed to be the biggest culprit in the negative survey findings. The simple solution to this problem is to use noise-cancelling earphones. Furthermore, having a larger floor space seems to counteract the problems that could arise from having a less intimate workspace.

As Upclick continues to embrace the new open office concept, the increased interaction between employees in different departments has also played well on communication and idea flows. Besides, it feels better walking into a workspace that looks less like a dark and gloomy episode of “The Office”, and more like a bright setting that promotes sharing and collaboration.