‘The Open Office is Dead,’ Says the Creators of the Open Office

An open office space that looks rather boring. It's just tables and chairs

I don’t know if it’s just bad headline writing or what, but yet another expert is declaring a major movement is dead, and it seems more attention-seeking than the thing actually being dead.

It’s sort of like Mailchimp declaring the post office dead.

In this case, Clive Wilkinson Architects, the architects who have popularized the open office, are now declaring the open office to be defunct. They’re declaring the new office concept — which they created — to be something much, much different.

It’s like Dr. Frankenstein telling us that this time the monster won’t be quite so homicidal.

The pandemic has radically disrupted how we do everything in the business world, including long-term office space, coworking, and becoming an entrepreneur. And it has certainly disrupted the idea of the super-spreader open office.

But we don’t think it’s going away any time soon. Too many companies have invested (not a lot) of time and money into creating a space where everyone can meet, work, and be completely visible to managers who still think you have to be present at the office to get actual work done.

An open office space that looks rather boring. It's just tables and chairsLook, we’re not wild about the open office concept (said the guy sitting in the middle of a 4,000 sq. ft. coworking space), because they can be noisy and distracting if you don’t know how to cope with everything going on around you. (Noise-canceling headphones are worth their weight in gold!)

So the new open office plans created by Clive Wilkinson — which sounds like the name of a British Shakespearean actor — address the one-size-fits-all concept that open office spaces used to embrace. They came up with 12 different building blocks that open office spaces can use to “create the open office space of tomorrow.”

(Say that last part with a loud TV announcer voice.)

Blocks include the Library, the Plaza, the Avenue, the Pod, the Booth, and more.

Of course, not every coworking space can include all 12 blocks, but you can incorporate a few of the blocks into your own space.

For example, here at Neoware, we have a Pitch Room conference area, a Team Room where the staff sits, the Desk where individuals can park for a day, and even a Plaza, which is our living room setup, complete with Ikea couches, the snack bar, and a TV for watching Bob Ross videos and baseball games. (I love baseball and Bob Ross, and I’m in charge of the remote.)

We’ll admit, the open office space was not great for the American office. Yes, it’s inexpensive and easy — all you need are desks and chairs, without any expensive build-outs for individual offices or spending tens of thousands of dollars on five-foot wobbly walls. That’s been great!

But the idea of shoving people together at 30-foot long tables like we were all working in a high school cafeteria is, well, problematic to say the least.

So we’ll cast a wary-but-willing eye on the new designs from Clive Wilkinson (we loved him in Midsummer’s Night Dream!) and follow the new practices in our own layouts. We want happy tenants who are able to not only find a more interesting place to work than home but have a chance to meet new people and network with fellow entrepreneurs, even while getting enough privacy to do their work.

We’d like to try to create that kind of environment for you too. If you’d like to visit the Neoware office space and get a tour, just visit our website and schedule one today.

Photo credit: Akshay Gupta (PixaHive, Creative Commons 0)

Erik Deckers is the Director of Marketing for Neoware Studios. He also owns a content marketing agency and has co-authored four books on social media marketing, including Branding Yourself and No Bullshit Social Media. He was the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando.