Fifty years ago, the average American office didn’t stray from the norm: People in business attire all worked in a traditional office space from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.
Now, the “average” office space is hard to describe. Many offices are still traditional, with business dress code, standard hours, set desk spaces, and few perks; other offices, however, offer flexible hours, no dress code, and open spaces for employees to move around in. And many businesses don’t even have a physical office, as technology allows employees to work from home.
So, what is the typical office space for an American worker? Clutch takes a look at nine office spaces from across the U.S.:
- Traditional office: Delevan, Wisc.
- Personalized office: Pittsburgh
- Coworking office: Denver
- Hybrid office: Boise, Idaho
- Home offices: Greensboro, N.C., and Austin, Texas
- In-home, multi-person office: Phoenix
- Office with a good location: New York City
- Office with a view: Santa Barbara, Calif.
1. Traditional Office in Wisconsin Satisfies Employees by Providing Collaborative Work Spaces
Amazon fulfillment solutions center Geneva Supply in Delavan, Wisc., is proof that a traditional office space can satisfy employees: It has been listed in the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Best Places to Work three years in a row.
Geneva Supply's office is filled with both personal and meeting spaces. About 11% of U.S. employees value collaborative rooms, or small rooms where employees can brainstorm and work together, over any other office space. Geneva Supply’s office accommodates this desire.
“The office is very unique, welcoming, and is hooked up with a great stereo system so that we can all enjoy music,” Digital Marketing Strategist Catrina Carne said. “It gives us a great area to collaborate, be comfortable, and just get things done.”
“It gives us a great area to collaborate, be comfortable, and just get things done.”
A traditional office space can contribute to employees’ overall productivity and satisfaction at work.
2. Personalized Office in Pittsburgh Makes Employees’ Work Space Feel Like Home
Personalized offices make employees happier and more comfortable, especially when 53% of employees value their personal space more than any other office space, including places to relax (14%), quiet spaces (13%), collaborative spaces (11%), and large meeting rooms (11%).
Wolfe LLC, a technology incubator and investor in Pittsburgh, lets employees customize their workspaces.
Nearly all employees across the U.S. (98%) have an assigned space at their office, and this personalization helps employees feel comfortable in the office.
“Our office atmosphere is unique, dynamic, and welcoming,” Content Writer and Editor Mary Koczan said. “Reminders of what the company stands for and being able to display important aspects of one’s personal life inspires respect and trust. It encourages employees to be successful as individuals and as a team.”
"Being able to display important aspects of one’s personal life inspires respect and trust."
Even in a traditional office space, employees feel like they can be individuals at Wolfe, which leads to increased respect and productivity.
3. Coworking Office in Denver Provides Unique Collaboration Opportunities
Sophie Mann, content development manager at Encite International, a marketing agency in Denver, likes working in a coworking space over a traditional office.
“We share our space with podcasters, interior designers, landscapers, and everything in between,” Mann said.
Mann enjoys the relaxed nature of a coworking space and working with people who aren’t just her colleagues.
“We’re definitely more laidback than your traditional, cubicle-ridden office,” Mann said. “We encourage ping-pong breaks, office puppies, and grabbing the occasional beer.”
“We’re definitely more laidback than your traditional, cubicle-ridden office.”
Just 28% of U.S. employees prefer an office with an open floor plan, while 52% want private offices. Employees of Encite International, however, appreciate the “fun,” open nature of the coworking space.
4. Hybrid Office in Boise Combines Traditional and Coworking Spaces
Deliberate Directions, a business coaching and team training company in Boise, Idaho, combines traditional office space with coworking spaces. In addition to room for its own employees, Deliberate Directions rents out its office space to remote workers and has rooms where other businesses can do team-building, business planning, and training programs.
“The hybrid model has worked well for us because it allows us to interact with clients and co-workers while also creating flexibility for other businesses in our community,” CEO Allison Dunn said.
"It allows us to interact with clients and co-workers while also creating flexibility for other businesses in our community."
Deliberate Directions’ office space offers a variety of workspaces to help employees collaborate with each other and with clients.
The office includes three glass offices, an open space for employees to work together, and an open reception and refreshment area. This variety reflects most American offices, which tend to have multiple types of spaces in their offices:
- Personal spaces (74%)
- Large meeting rooms (56%)
- Small collaborative spaces (53%)
- Places to relax (51%)
- Quiet spaces (41%)
Deliberate Directions has an office space that meets employees’ varying needs.
5. Home Offices in North Carolina and Texas Complement Employee Lifestyles
Leah Hazelwood’s commute consists of walking a few feet to an in-home workspace — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Hazelwood, of Greensboro, N.C., owns Go-Forth Pest Control with her husband. She transitioned to a home office after she had four children and realized her duties, including payroll, accounting, and other administrative tasks, could be performed at home.
Hazelwood personalized her home office to include crafts from her children and pictures of her friends and family.
“I am surrounded by tons of my kids’ artwork,” Hazelwood said. “This space is about peace and work-life balance, so I am not as concerned about it looking trendy or professional. It is super personal.”
“This space is about peace and work-life balance.”
Hazelwood values the ability to personalize a home office more than a traditional office.
“I have some funny photos of me and my friends and family in my office that I probably wouldn’t want to have publicly displayed at a traditional office.”
Hazelwood can decorate her home office as she pleases, rather than worry about it looking professional, a benefit of working from home.
Beverly Solomon is transitioning to retirement after working fully from home near Austin, Texas, for more than 20 years. Her career spans working as an executive in sales and marketing for companies such as Diane von Furstenberg, Revlon, and Ralph Lauren before opening her own art and design firm.
“I was lucky enough to do most of my business from my home office in all of those capacities,” Solomon said.
Solomon’s office opens onto a covered veranda, which the Texas Film Commission described as one of the 10 best porch views in Texas in the 1990s.
Solomon enjoys the views from her office but tries not to become too distracted by it.
“Living in such a beautiful setting and working at home requires a lot of discipline,” Solomon said. “But one of the keys to my success over the years was my tenacity, focus, and discipline.”
“Working at home requires a lot of discipline.”
People who work from home have to learn to avoid the distractions of working where they live. This is why 83% of employees want to work in an office at least some of the time.
Working from home isn’t for everyone, but those who do work remotely enjoy working from a space they can truly make their own.
6. In-Home, Multi-Person Office in Phoenix Saves Young Company Money
Not every in-home office is for just one employee. Modern Castle, a platform that tests and reviews home products, has an office in Phoenix that is out of Editor-in-Chief Derek Hales’ home.
Four employees have worked in Hales’ home for the past three years.
“Our office has gradually grown to take over most of my home,” Hales said.
The in-home office includes an open loft area at the top of the stairs, which has a workstation for video and photo editing and a workstation for bookkeeping and administrative functions; a videography studio in a foyer and dining room; and a primary office in a bedroom.
Modern Castle is relocating to a new office in a 1,000-square-foot building in 2020 due to its growing size, but Hales’ home offered a convenient and affordable office option for three years.
“I don’t regret maintaining our home office as long as we did,” Hales said. “Not having to spend money on an external office allowed us to spend more on growing the business itself, bringing on new employees, and investing more in the growth of the business.”
“Not having to spend money on an external office allowed us to spend more on growing the business itself.”
Modern Castle succeeds in part because Hales could allocate funds toward the business itself, not the office space. The company is, however, moving to a real office space soon, which will increase the space to get work done (61%) and improve productivity (48%), two of the top perks of office relocation.
7. Office With a Good Location in New York City Eases Employee Commutes
A good office isn’t just defined by its space — it’s also defined by its location. Digital marketing agency Fueled is in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.
About 70% of offices across the U.S. are near restaurants, and Fueled is no exception.
“It’s really nice to be in the heart of the city around really great food options and close to so many subways, so it’s easy for any employee to commute no matter what part of the city they are in,” Digital Marketing Strategist Max Falb said.
“It’s easy for any employee to commute no matter what part of the city they are in.”
In addition to proximity to restaurants, Fueled employees, like workers across the U.S., appreciate working in an office that eases their commute: 49% of employees prefer their office to be near their home over any other office location perk. An easy commute is a must for many employees.
Office location matters just as much as an office space.
8. Office With a View in California Contributes to Enjoyable, Refreshing Lunch Breaks
Although remote and coworking offices are rising in popularity, many employees still enjoy traditional office spaces — especially if they come with a view, like tech company WELL Health Inc. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
WELL Health employees enjoy the view on a rooftop deck, which includes a panoramic view of the mountains and the ocean in the distance. Many eat lunch on the deck.
“It really offers everything you would want in an office where you spend the majority of the week,” Health Editor Pamela Ellgen said.
“It really offers everything you would want in an office where you spend the majority of the week.”
Employees appreciate when traditional offices include perks, such as a deck or a view: 50% of employees say a more visually appealing space was a benefit of their office relocation.
The “Typical” American Office Is Changing
Twenty years ago, someone who didn’t go to a traditional office every day was rare. Now, however, there is no “normal” office space. From coworking to remote working, employees work in a variety of environments.
The perfect office space varies by company needs and objectives. Some businesses thrive in a traditional office, while others succeed in a coworking or home office space.
The “typical” American office space no longer exists.