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Traditional employer embraces new trend toward open spaces and unassigned desks

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Toronto-Dominion Bank is converting 20 floors of its iconic south tower in downtown Toronto into the workplace of the future. Gone are dreary cubicles lined up in rows and an uninviting entrance. Instead, the open-concept floors feature more light and glass and fewer assigned desks.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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Office ergonomics studies have shown that, even in the most desk-bound professions, as many as half the work spaces are unoccupied at any given time in the work day. To counter this and reflect changing times, TD Bank has created clusters of unassigned desks.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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Free-form office spaces were once just the domain of high-tech and design companies. But traditional companies such as TD Bank are joining the trend, too. Cost is part of the motivation. By sharing spaces, studies have shown, offices need fewer desks, which can be a cost saving. Additionally, the arrangement appeals more to younger workers who are accustomed to fewer walls, open social areas and wireless work.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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Some office traditions will never go away. TD Bank workers still need enclosed areas to conduct meetings. But the windows, free from blockages, and the glass walls keep the environment airy. There are also phone booths and small enclosures for private conversations.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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One of the big advantages of tearing out cubicles is that it leaves windows unobstructed. Natural light filters through the entire floor, including the lunch room, in TD Bank’s reconfigured space.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

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