Majority of people devote a huge amount of their work time within an office. The ambiance of office is of great significance to the employees as it has direct influence on the job efficiency of the employees. And layout of an office is the foundation of creating an ideal setting of an office. An organization has to judiciously outline its design and strategy for efficient and methodical division of different functional units, once it chooses to start an office. The purpose of the outline is to derive maximum utility of the available space.
Define Cellular Layout:
A cellular office layout is a kind of organizational arrangement in which separate chambers are allotted to different sections of a division in the office so that all employees own an individual office. The cellular layout of office is also known as a private or closed office. It is generally partitioned with walls or panels to form separate office places for every staff and each cubicle has a door. It is typically equipped with common fixtures like a chair and a table.
Each cellular office accommodates normally one or two employees. Cellular office layouts are extremely essential for those who require noiseless surroundings to focus. In the late 60’s this layout was conceptualized by eminent designer and planner Robert Propst. Cellular Office Layout has its own benefits and drawbacks which are discussed below.
Advantages of Office Cellular Layouts:
Since it is a closed layout, employees have full confidentiality and privateness for themselves. They can take confidential calls inside their cubicles and can even have spur-of-the-moment meetings with other staff. They can typify their workspaces according to their cosiness and ease and can create their own joyful ambiance which will eventually increase their efficiency. A cellular office layout is accurate for administrative office layout in companies where regular jobs are required to be completed in high privacy.
One of the main drawbacks of open office is the cacophonous environment which frequently creates disturbances for staff and results in lack of concentration. Unlike open offices, cellular offices offer a commotion free and peaceful ambiance for the staff, thus, letting them to concentrate on their job. Particularly the programmers, analysts and technical staff find it immensely favourable for their jobs which demands high concentration and focus.
A noiseless space is often essential for imaginative and innovative jobs which are easily accessible in cellular office layout. Contrasting to the open layout, people working in cellular office can work in peace, away from noises, avoiding movement of lots of people around, thus helping innovative or creative employees to be more productive in their outputs.
4. Distinct Rankings and Motivations:
The hierarchical structure becomes very clear in the cellular offices and anyone can make out anyone’s hierarchical position by just looking at their cubicles. The principle is, higher the rank, better will be the cubicles in all aspects. This often motivates employee to work harder to have a better office of their own, which in turn instigates healthy competition amongst employees to perform better.
5. Little Gossip:
Gossip is a big problem for employees working in an open space layout as all are crowded in one big space and can easily interact with each other, which actually diminishes their efficiency. On the other hand, in the cellular layout, employees are scattered and partitioned in their own spaces to work without having much opportunity to gossip with other colleagues during their office timings.
6. Good for Health:
In open offices, since all employees are jam-packed in one space, the chances of acquiring infections also increase as any employee who is infected with any contagious illness, may spread the infection easily to others in that office. Whereas, in a cellular office, chances of spreading of infections are diminished, since all employees are separated with the walls or partitions of their cubicles, thus, preventing germs to spread and keeping them healthy.
7. Adjust Room Temperature and Lighting as Per Convenience:
In the open office layout, since all employees have to sit in one big common space, they have to adjust themselves with the heating, air conditioning or lightings which are common for all. For example, if anyone feels cold and others are feeling hot, that particular employee has to bear with others regarding temperature control of the air conditioner. But, in a cellular layout, all employees have the benefit to regulate the heating, lighting or other conditions as per their choice to satisfy themselves.
8. Loud Equipment Can Be Isolated:
In the cellular office layout, it is a big advantage that the noisy equipment which can cause disturbances can be isolated in separate rooms. This will help to preserve the quiet ambiance inside the office allowing the employees to work in peace. Whereas, in open layout, whether be it the employees or any kind of equipment, all are kept in that same common big room, thus, causing a noisy work atmosphere for the employees and resulting in lack of concentration.
9. Better Security:
In the cellular offices, individual cubicles can be made inaccessible by locking them up thus, safekeeping important, confidential documents and individual things when the offices are not used. While, in the open office since all employees share the common room, there is not much security to either documents or personal belongings.
10. Perfect For Long Duration Group Ventures:
Unlike the open layout, Cellular offices offer perfect ambiance for long duration projects allowing the team to stay together in one cubicle, isolated from the others, and helps them to communicate efficiently within the team and even provides them confidentiality and privacy for team meetings.
11. Typically Has a Window, Letting in Sunlight and Fresh Air:
Generally, the cellular offices have one window for each side cubicles, allowing enough fresh air, in case there is no air conditioning, and plenty of sunlight. This helps the office to look bright and airy without any stuffiness, providing a fresh-feel to the employees.
Since all good things come with hitches, likewise, cellular office layout too, has certain disadvantages.
Disadvantages of Office Cellular Layouts:
1. Consumes Huge Space:
Open office layouts require comparatively low space than celluar layout as they don’t have to design separate spaces for staff. Cellular offices need considerably extra space than open layouts. The need of space can be quite high as every worker has their individual workspace. This can be very expensive for the company, particularly if the offices are situated in metro cities which are extremely expensive, thus every square inch of the office may cost pretty high. Even the doors and passageways in cellular layout consume a lot of area, for which the company has to pay but cannot be utilised as workspace.
2. Poor Administration:
Staff management in a cellular office layout can be quite problematic. In an open layout, supervising the employees is actually easier since scanning carefully through the area will depict each employee’s activities, whereas, closed office layout calls for managers to pay a visit to every single workspace to observe all the employees’ activities, and this can actually be tiresome. It’s not possible for the manager to supervise all employees efficiently in a celluar layout.
3. Employees Becoming Unproductive:
Cellular office layouts can often hamper the employees’ productivity as the seclusion offered by the partitions offer them chances to waste their time and might make them inactive. Even, certain workers might seize this opportunity and misuse the benefit of the isolation offered by the separate workspaces and not do the works assigned to them, thus wasting both company’s time and money. Some might even get involved in undesirable deeds such as workplace romances and other corruptions.
4. Ineffective Communication:
One advantage of the open office layout is that the employees can easily communicate with each other, thus promoting organizational efficiency. But in case of cellular office layouts, since they are all separated by the cubicles, it is not appropriate for effective communication amongst the staffs. In the cellular layout, the main mode of communication among the employees are e-mails and memos, which is definitely ideal for record keeping, but are not as powerful as verbal communication.
Constructing and running a cellular office can be quite costly in comparison to building and managing an open office layout. Since, in the cellular pattern, all employees have to be given separate cubicles, thus it requires more space which can be really expensive. Moreover, the fitting of individual workspaces and construction of panels or walls that isolate the cubicles is also very expensive. Besides, furnishing them, providing heating, air conditioning, and lighting the cubicles also require a lot of money. Even after construction, running a cellular layout office is also very expensive. Separate doors and windows consume a lot of space which can be even more costly.
6. Equipment cannot be shared:
Since all cubicles are partitioned, each of them will require separate resources like telephones, fax, printers and photocopiers. This will definitely increase the operational cost for any organization having cellular layout. Whereas, in open layout, equipment sharing can be easy and effective, as all the employees share a common space, thus, reducing operational cost.
7. Difficult to Adjust Work space to Match Work Load:
Once the cubicles are ready, it becomes difficult to add or reduce the dimensions of the cubicles as per changes in the work load. For example, if any organization following cellular pattern office, decides to expand, then it becomes nearly impossible to cram extra space for the additional employees taken in order to match work pressure.
8. It’s tougher for the Junior Employees to approach Senior Managers:
An open layout offers an ambiance of equality and senior managers are easily accessible to the junior employees in case they need any suggestion or help. But in case of cellular layout, it becomes really problematic to build a comfortable and approachable environment amongst all the staff as managers or supervisors are generally disconnected from the junior employees by separate cubicles. This causes invisible discrimination amongst the junior and senior employees, making it tough for the juniors to approach their seniors.
9. Sense of Seclusion:
Employees may not feel part of a group as they all are separated by cubicles and this can create a feeling of solitude in employees. They may not find anyone nearby to talk over if support and assistance are required. This isolated feeling may be harmful for their productivity. But, in open layout all employees are easily approachable.
10. Maintenance of Standard Operating Procedure Become Difficult:
Introducing and maintaining a standard operating procedure for all employees become really challenging in the cellular office layout, as all employees are secluded and partitioned by cubicles as per their hierarchy.
11. Training Employees Can be a Long Process:
Since it is difficult to address all the employees together at a time, so training employees for any particular job becomes challenging and time consuming. The training has to be scheduled over a period of time and only small groups from each cubicle can be trained at a time. This eventually results in wastage of time as well as money.
12. Flow of Information Might be Decelerated:
Cellular office pattern can cause difficulty in interaction amongst the employees, as a consequence the flow of information within the organization might get decelerated. It will definitely take more time passing information from one cubicle to other, thus, causing difficulty in coordinating the work flow.
Architects and designers have been working hard for decades to find a layout that perfectly suits the needs of offices, their type of works while economizing the patterns and incorporating latest technologies. Whenever an organization decides to set up a new workplace, they have to consider some essential aspects and choosing a perfect office layout to meet their necessity is one of those serious issues. This has quite a lot of significant effects on the organization including cost-effectiveness, ensuring proper communication and providing a cosy work environment to the employees.
Thus, before selecting any layout, the benefits and hitches of both the patterns should be considered carefully so as to choose the right one meeting the organization’s demand.