Cubicle space is shrinking

If you feel like your cubicle walls are closing in around you, you may be right.

A combination of the troubled economy and the influx of mobile technology is changing A combination of mobile technology and a sluggish economy is shrinking American cubicle, the target of office humor in movies such as "Office Space" and the Dilbert comics.the workplace landscape. Literally.

Companies across the country are shrinking those boxed-in work areas or scrapping the notion of the once-ubiquitous cubicles altogether.

At tech-giant Intel, employees who used to work in a 72-square-foot space now work in a cozier 48-square-foot station, company officials say.

“Everyone used to get a cube, but that doesn’t work for the way people actually do their work today,” said Neil Tunmore, director of corporate services at Intel, who spearheaded the corporate redesign that began in 2007.

In 1994, the average office worker had 90 square feet of office space, but the area had been whittled down to 75 square feet in 2010, according to the International Facility Management Association, a professional network for the facility management industry.

Space for senior office workers shrunk, too, from 115 square feet in 1994 to 96 square feet in 2010.

But not to worry, that corner office keeps growing. During this same time, space for executive management actually increased.

Chart: The ever-shrinking cubicle

Gensler, a design firm in San Francisco has renovated spaces for 70% of the Fortune 500 companies. On average, they estimate those companies have downsized the cubicle from an 8-by-10 foot area to a 5-by-5 foot work space.

Open-space seating found at companies such asFacebook are becoming a popular “team-oriented” model in the past 10 years, she says.

“In recent years, we’ve seen how companies are trying to shed real estate cost,” says Shari Epstein, director of research at the IFMA. “When you have less space to work, you will try to cram as many people into one space.”



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