There’s a never-ending debate between whether open-plan offices or cubicle farms are the preferred choice in workplaces. Maybe one is ideal for owners and bosses, but employees prefer the alternative. Perhaps we should offer a combination by providing employees with their own desk space completed with low-rise or glass-top panels to give the perception of an open floor plan. Maybe a flexible space is the optimal solution; presenting a variety of working environments if your space and budget allows for this.

In reality, the type of workspace required will differ depending on your job description. Some employees may be required to converse and collaborate with coworkers and team members regularly while others solely work individually and prefer a quiet, private space to focus. While some employees’ needs will be very straightforward; for example, the receptionist or customer service representative must have a reception cubicle making them easily approachable by customers walking through the front door; other won’t be as obvious.

So, let’s break down workstation requirements and preferences for every type of employee to allow you to properly outfit your office space in the best possible layout.

THE TECH GURU

Best

Anyone working in IT is required to multitask regularly. They jump around from task to task and need a space where they can focus on a number of functions without being distracted. However, they typically often work with others in their department and frequently converse with their team members. Therefore, teaming cubicles is a great choice for any IT or tech employee. They have their own desk space and privacy, but the mid or low-rise panels and the close proximity to their coworkers allows for effortless communication when needed.

Worst

On the other hand, these employees would not be as effective in either end of the spectrum. For example, a small cubicle with tall, solid panels or an open office utilizing a desking system and no privacy panels would be an impractical alternative.

THE CREATIVE GRAPHIC DESIGNER OR CONTENT CREATOR

Best

It’s difficult to write, or use any creative juices for that matter, with constant noise distractions. Multiple conversations in the background, coworkers constantly interrupting your work with small talk, and phones ringing every few minutes is not the ideal situation. However, they will appreciate some type of creative influence. For example, the ability to see out the windows and catch a glimpse of the outside world.

Therefore, the optimal environment for these employees would consist of a private cubicle to block out noise with glass panels so they can look around and gather inspiration or sneak a change of scenery whenever appropriate.

Worst

Similar to your IT department, tall, solid cubicle walls or a desking system in an open office is not the way to go in this situation. Your graphic designers and writers will be distracted and unable to focus, taking them much longer to produce below average work.

THE SALES REP

Best

Your sales reps spend majority of their day on the phone. They don’t require much desk surface space. Enough space for a phone and monitor with a filing system or built-in storage solutions is plenty. However, their constant phone calls may distract other employees. So, supply high panels with acoustical elements or call center cubicles to avoid any disruption. This way, they can focus on the customer on the other end of the line while their coworkers complete their work distraction free.

Worst

Again, a desking system, low cubicle panels, or any type of open floor plan with a lack of privacy will not be effective here. Sales calls should be between the sales rep and customer only.

THE BOSS

Best

The boss or manager completes a multitude of tasks, arguably requires the most storage, and must keep an eye on the rest of the office and employees to oversee day to day tasks. The boss is best suited in a large, private, glass cubicle or office, allowing them to keep an eye on everything outside of their workspace as well. All other employees will also be able to see their boss to determine if it’s a good time to ask a question, see if he/she is in their office or not, or establish whether or not their manager is on the phone or in a meeting.

Worst

A small cubicle with high panels would not be ideal in this situation simply because they need more storage space in addition to the ability to see the rest of the office from inside their private space. Additionally, any workspace lacking privacy would not be the most effective solution for them either.

THE TEAM LEADER

Best

A team leader would be best suited in a teaming cubicle with mid-rise panels offering a private workspace while still making him/her easily accessible to other team members. The entire team can work in unison and communicate without disturbing anyone else in the office.

Worst

The team leader should not be positioned in a private space (office or cubicle) unreachable by the rest of the team. They will spend most of the day collaborating with each other, so the easier this action is, the more efficient the team will be.

THE INTROVERTED ACCOUNTANT

Best

Any employee in accounting or finance primarily works independently. Communication with any other employees is not usually necessary. This allows them to have a private, quiet workspace where communication may not be as convenient.

Worst

An open office or desking system will be distracting and frustrating for an accountant because of the inability to block out noise and visual distractions. This department does not require much communication, so you wouldn’t put them in the middle of any discussions or team projects.

Now that you’ve determined the most effective workstations for your entire team, you can ensure that every employee in your office is most capable of producing their best quality work in a productive and efficient manner. Understand that there is no better or worse, right or wrong answer when it comes to office layouts. The best solution is to maximize your workspace by adapting to each employees’ needs; not creating a single work environment and expecting everyone in the office to adjust to that particular space.