Feeling claustrophobic? It's the incredible shrinking office
November 9, 2015

Does it sometimes feel like the office walls are closing in on you?

Are your co-workers all up in your grill, invading your personal space with their loud phone calls and increasingly sharp elbows?

Don't call the psychiatrist just yet — your workspace may be shrinking, literally.

Chicago companies that slashed their square footage along with their workforce during the Great Recession have been hiring again for five years. But their office space hasn't grown to match their expanded payrolls, data show.

That means fewer private offices, more standing desks, open-plan seating, desk sharing, and — for many of those lucky enough to hang on to their own personal space — smaller footprints, with a typical cubicle shrinking from a relatively roomy 8 feet by 10 feet to a snug 6 by 6.

"It's certainly not unique to Chicago. Even with (economic) expansion, a lot of firms are continuing to take less space," said Heidi Learner, chief economist with commercial real estate advisers Savills Studley. "They're growing, and they're growing their head count, but they're taking less space than they have previously..."

Feeling claustrophobic? It's the incredible shrinking office

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