Walking into an office cubicle has the same reputation as being forced below deck on an ancient Roman ship. Sit down, grab an oar and row. In other words, do your work or else.
Cubicles in popular culture are seen as creativity killers and depression inducers. The partitioned office layout is supposed to take the potential for a competitive advantage and crush it into conformity.
Meanwhile, an open office supports collaboration and productivity, right?
Wait. Not so fast.
Cubicles have wonderful benefits. They can define private office space and there are cubicles with doors and clear partitions so workers don’t feel walled out.
Photo: Trendway Snap Workspace
Here’s a fact you likely don’t know:
The cubicle versus open office tug-of-war heated up decades ago.
The legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed an open office layout for Johnson and Johnson in the 1930s. That standard held until the mid-1960s when a designer with office furniture maker Herman Miller created an active office. The layout promoted personal space and focus.
Thus, the cubicle.
In the 2000s, up and coming tech start-ups embraced the open office concept once again.
What about now?
More options exist for cubicles than ever before.
Read on and see how to make decisions based on your company goals and the 2010 Space Planning Strategy.
Photo: Friant Novo Workstations
Gray carpeting on cheap aluminum partitions are gone. Instead, cubicles come in a variety of modular styles to support personal focus, communication within departments and company-wide collaboration.
Project teams that need back and forth dialogue on the client challenge of the month can use one type of layout while the finance department can use another style.
First, according to this description from the website Dimensions.Guide cubicles:
- Offer Privacy
- Buffer Noise
- Reduce Visual Distractions
Photo: HON Accelerate Workstations
Privacy screens can be several inches high or higher.
Partitions can create a three-sided setting by blocking workers to the right and left.
Cubicles can also be in a fan-shaped style and act as pods to fit three or four workers in the same department.
Now see how you can make this well-known office accessory benefit your workplace.
Know How You Want Your Cubicle to Function
Match the style of cubicles to the needed function.
An administrative cubicle for bookkeeping or human resources can have a desk with modular storage on one end and a place at the other end to handle computer work or in person meetings. The Friant System 2 and the HON Accelerate Workstations are good examples.
Photo: Friant System 2 Workstations
Photo: HON Accelerate Workstations
There can be enough space to include a chair for someone to stop in and have a conversation.
Benching cubicles are made for utility tasks like data entry while allowing for personal space and modular storage. Look into a model like the ODS Crossroads Workstation.
You can evaluate who needs what cubicle style by knowing:
- How much repetitive work an employee has to do
- How often that person needs to interact with others
- The use of phone calls with customers.
Choose specific cubicle layouts to support your different office functions.
Clear company goals, supported with clearly defined workspaces and roles, create efficiency and help people work productively.
Competitive advantage: A cubicle can lead to a highly productive work environment.
Photo: ODS / Office Design Studio Crossroads Workstations
Cubicles Can Boost a Company’s Brand Internally
Appearances matter in the workplace—not showy and ostentatious—but neat, functional and inviting styles in furnishings give employees a sense of pride and belonging in the workplace.
Partition colors and clean lines look professional without being overbearing and stifling.
High end cubicles can house executive desks and cubicle workstations can fit easily within an open office layout. Workstations are flexible and space can easily be added as the company expands and new hires are made.
People see the investment made when they settle at their workstations and can buy in to the brand promise being made to the outside world.
Competitive Advantage: Cubicles are flexible and can lend to collaboration or privacy as needed.
Cubicles Can Channel Workflow
Direct the workflow of individuals into a complete whole with well-defined cubicle pods, cubicle benches and products like architectural walls.
If you have a few people who are making outbound sales calls, they can have one style of cubicle with partitions in an area of the office. Further set the space apart in a green and pleasing manner using indoor plants and crafted bookcases.
A project team can have their own style of workstation where they can focus on their own work individually, yet easily turn around and communicate with others.
Set apart a meeting space using floor to ceiling walls that are clear and that easily install with no construction mess.
Competitive Advantage: Clarity reduces office stress when people know what’s expected of them and how their work reaches the company’s goals.
Photo: HON Abound Workstations
Cubicles Support People
An office has equipment and furnishings, but the reality is talented people need support in their work. The right layout leads to effective planning and communication. Don’t use cubicles just to house workers, but:
- Respect their space
- Involve them in layout and needs discussions
- Implement a solution that’s satisfactory
Partitioned office spaces have another benefit: Wellness
A Sage Journals abstract of a study on healthiest office environments showed that the “Best health was among employees in cell offices and flex offices. Workers in these types of offices and in shared room offices also rated the highest job satisfaction.”
Competitive Advantage: An engaged workforce with people who take a personal stake in the outcome.
Photo: HON Workspace Solutions
Get the Expertise You Need
Make cubicles work for you and your team. Ask 2010 Office Furniture about their space planning strategy so you can create the efficiencies you need to reach your goals.
The 2010 Office Furniture team has more than 45 years of experience serving corporations, universities and small businesses throughout Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.
The team has more than 45 years of experience serving corporations, universities and small businesses throughout Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Read Also: Creating Ergonomic Workstations for Office Well-Being and Productivity
Main Photo by: Friant
Resources & Special Thanks to: Dimensions.Guide, Sage Journals & Respective Product Manufacturers: Friant, HON, ODS / Office Design Studio & Trendway