Office Design: Productivity Goes Up When Walls Come Down


As young entrepreneurs developed their products and opened their doors for business in Silicon Valley, they found that the conventional office layout of four walls and a door was not working for them. They had often started out by brainstorming and sketching out ideas on laptops in small groups. The traditional work environment left them feeling stifled and cut off. Once a symbol of success, the floor to ceiling box format did not appeal to management prospects accustomed to close collaboration with fellow workers.

Open Space Concept Spreads

In the past five years, as younger business leaders and their professional teams took their place in the corporate world, many large organizations started moving to the open, collaborative workspace. Slowly, the walls came down and many offices started to resemble local coffee houses rather than the traditional company headquarters. While Google may be the most visible example, their playful nooks and whimsical corners may not appeal to everyone. Companies everywhere, however, recognized that the basic collaborative concept was still valid.

Making the Move

But when a company moves to a new space and is faced with the opportunity for a fresh office design, abandoning the walls can be a bit daunting. Other CEOs get very enthusiastic and want to incorporate every amazing idea that they read about. The key is balance.

To create the most efficient, but fun, environment for your workforce, choosing to partner with a company that designs and manufactures in house will save you time, money and wasted effort. At Rieke, we act as your non-biased advisor. Our first thought is what is best for your organization. Our designers are very aware that people have a variety of workstyles. They know how to make concessions and create different environments that match the preferences of all levels within an organization. By using our talents, imaginations and experience, we can design a workspace that precisely matches your organization’s personality and needs.

Our Process

“We want people to be productive and happy with their new work space, so we would never push preconceived ideas onto our clients,” said Colleen Baader, Creative Director of Design. “We have evolved a process that allows us to work as partners to build a unique, customized workspace.”

One way we do this is to encourage visits to our office and other facilities we have designed to see for yourself the different styles and mixtures of high and low walls. Experiencing a living environment where people interact naturally is much better than viewing a photo.

“Sometimes, it’s best to take small steps,” suggested Baader. “For example, the simple idea of bringing in natural light by taking out offices around the perimeter can put employees more in touch with the natural environment and make them healthier, happier and more effective.”

The middle ground might be a good place to start. Open spaces are easier to adapt and expand down the road than the conventional office model. Potential growth is an important factor. At Rieke, we are currently working with many companies that now employ 35 people but know their needs are going to grow to 50-60 in the near future.

Breaking people (and departments) out of their isolation and encouraging interaction is often an effective way to increase productivity without changing your office footprint. To view sample office layouts, please give us a call. We would welcome the chance to speak with you.


2000 Fox Lane
Elgin, IL 60123-7814
Phone: 847.622.9711
Fax: 847.622.9750