The American workspace is getting smaller. In 2010, there was an average of 225 square feet of office space per office employee in North America; in 2012, the figure was down to 176 square feet, the New York Times reports based on data from a real estate association. The group expects the number to drop to 151 square feet by 2017, Time reports. And in New York City, things look even tighter. A survey of 10 new office spaces cited by the Times found that the average amount of room per worker was 120 square feet, with the maximum at 178 and the minimum at 93. The shrinking comes as companies look to reduce their costs; some real estate firms suggest that companies move to spaces as much as 25% smaller than what they're currently using in order to save on rent.
One result, of course, is less privacy, especially as many offices opt for open plans. These days, notes Dilbert creator Scott Adams, "if you’ve got a place to hang a coat and a place to sit with a laptop, you’ve got everything you need." Meanwhile, some designers have created separate spaces called "refuge rooms" for an escape from the noise. One architect at a firm that designs open plans tells the Times private offices should exist, but they shouldn't be assigned to specific staff members. "If you don’t have that refuge, it’s horrible," she says. Click for the Times' full piece. (Read more office workers stories.)