Skip to main content

Office sizes shrink: Pros, cons of collaborative work spaces

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Offices are downsizing as companies look to save money on rent – the average worker's space shrunk from 90 square feet in 1994 to 75 square feet in 2010, according to one study, MPR reports.

That's led business managers to open up work areas into more collaborative spaces, which brings with it pros and cons: co-workers are interacting with – but also distracting – each other, MPR reports.

MPR visits Cassidy Turley, a commercial real estate services firm, where company officials have closely monitored the trend – and the company itself has downsized to a smaller space in Minneapolis.

"If you can save a dollar in cost, there's no additional revenue that needs to be produced and it can fall right to the bottom line," managing partner Dennis Panzer tells MPR. He adds, "The way we say it our office: if you show me one company that's expanding I can show you five that are downsizing."

Critics say open-office plans are overused and create huge distractions that cut productivity.

"We're throwing everyone out into these big open plans, where there's very little respite from the noise of other people around you, from the gaze of your co-workers, from the interruptions of your co-workers," lawyer and author Susan Cain, a critic of collaborative work environments, told MPR.

More collaborative work spaces are not a new trend. The New York Times two years ago profiled Intel's transformation from gray cubicle farms to brightly-colored group-work spaces.

The same folks who created the dull office cubicle are the ones turning a profit these days by killing it off, the Wall Street Journal reported this month.

The BBC last month examined some of the workplace dynamics – as well as the history – of open-office plans, which date to late 19th century.

Next Up

Marcus Foligno

Foligno's OT winner gives Wild fans a happy Hockey Day

A slow start gave way to the Wild's fifth win in the past six games.


Winter weather advisory issued as Saturday snow arrives

Not huge totals expected, but any snow will likely impact travel.


Report: Ryan Poles is Vikings' 'top choice' for general manager

Poles was one of two finalists revealed on Friday.

Payton Willis

Willis carries shorthanded Gophers to beat Rutgers

The senior scored a career-high 32 points to end a four-game losing streak.


Charges: St. Paul man had sexual contact 'multiple times' with 12-year-old girl

Marcus Steichen, 21, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Charges: Mom killed infant son just weeks after getting him back from foster care

The 10-month-old died in her care in Brooklyn Park last April.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Arrests made following fentanyl bust in St. Cloud

Authorities searched two St. Cloud apartments Friday morning.

potatoes 2

Minnesota's 'frozen potato freeway' closure attracts plenty of comment

It was, let's face it, a very Minnesotan reason for a freeway closure.

Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 9.07.54 AM

U of M fraternity raises money for chef's knee surgery

The GoFundMe has raised around $1,700 of its $5,000 goal.

unsplash restaurant cashier register COVID face mask - crop

7 restaurant, bar groups sue Minneapolis over dining vaccine mandate

"Minneapolis bars and restaurants are being used as pawns..." the lawsuit said.

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 7.47.53 AM

Woman fatally shot in St. Paul's North End neighborhood

It's the fourth homicide so far this year in St. Paul.


Wild flip the script, dominate Blackhawks

Ryan Hartman scored twice to earn the first game of a back-to-back.