(From USA Today) -- At online retailing giant Zappos, two of the top managers have no titles, and no one — except for two in-house lawyers — has an office. Not even the CEO.
The Nevada-based company's 1,300 workers (average age, 36), from the founders to programmers, mill about rooms without walls. Small cubicles serve as stations to park personal items, but work can be done anywhere — on couches, at shared tables or at the coffee shop down the street. Ear buds, not partitions, act as sound barriers.
"They're more concerned about being around other people who do cool things than how big their desks are," says Zach Ware, a no-title Zappos executive. "Our workspace has become our laptops."
The office of The Office is fading and shrinking in the process.
Technology, the urge to go green, telecommuting and a generation of workers who grew up with smartphones in their hands and computers in their laps are revamping the work culture. Companies are knocking down walls, even dismantling cubicles to create a free-flowing layout that many believe gets the creative juices flowing and encourages collaboration.
Younger workers welcome the change, says Patricia Lancaster, head of The Lancaster Group real estate consulting company who teaches at New York University's Schack Institute of Real Estate. "They don't aspire to the big corner office," she says. "They don't even want it."
And they don't need an assigned work station to call their own. Their cherished family photos adorn not their cubicles but their computers' wallpapers. They're kept on smartphones and posted on Facebook, not pinned to a bulletin board at desks.
At the same time, office equipment from printers and copiers to computers are shrinking. The paper trail is also waning, making big file cabinets obsolete in many work areas.
There's an added bonus for employers: Open floor plans accommodate more workers in less space, a welcome savings for companies scrambling to cut costs in a rough economy. Efficiency is also at a premium at a time when environmental concerns are on the rise.
A survey this year by CoreNet Global, an association of corporate real estate and workplace professionals, found that for many companies, the average allocation of office space per person will fall to 100 square feet or less within five years.