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“Pods or Pits”? Office Design for Teamwork, Productivity, and Open Communication

“Pods or Pits”? Office Design for Teamwork, Productivity, and Open Communication

Dan McCarthy

March 19, 2009

I work in an office that has three basic working spaces: Single offices for senior managers; shared offices for junior managers; individual “pods”, or cubicles, and open space “pits”, where teams are clustered together with no walls.

An office furniture company offered to write a guest post for Great Leadership on how to use office design to foster better teamwork, productivity, and more open communication. I asked the writer, John Flanagan, from CSN Chairs, to frame the post as a debate on the pros and cons of open space office design. He did a nice job with the article below, although he admits he’s biased towards open space.

I’ve never worked in an “open pit”, so I have my own biases. Check out John’s post, as well as the Asia One article and this BNET article I’ve included to add balance to the debate. After reading all three articles, please weigh in with your comments on the debate.

The Debate:

For many, working in a pod office setup is a reminder of the monotony of their jobs, and sometimes bears a slight resemblance to a cage or a claustrophobic prison. Others like the separation of closed environments, and their ability to focus more easily without getting distracted by their surroundings. The debate is carrying over into the 21st Century, and as the workforce, as well as the nature of employment evolves, so do our offices. Whether it is a large desk that we share with others or a small, cluttered pod, an office setup can significantly contribute to the overall morale and productivity of a company.

So what works and what doesn’t?


Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?