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DATE: 04/14/2016

Cubicle: Perhaps, we should simply remove the term from our lexicon. Ask any job seeker whether or not they want to work in a cubicle and their face will say it all.

Despite the efforts of modern manufacturers to reinvent the cubicle for the technological age, the unit still has a bit of a PR problem. And that’s simply because “it lost its way.”

The original modular workspace was designed with the goal of introducing autonomy, flexibility and freedom in the workplace. It was meant to give workers the best of both worlds: A private space to call their own, while simultaneously maintaining easy access to communicate with coworkers.

Even the late Robert Propst, the Herman Miller Research designer credited with inventing the unit, is quoted as saying "the cubicle-izing of people in modern corporations is monolithic insanity.”

You see, Propsts original design included a series of long, adjustable walls per unit. The end result was something more similar to an open desk-combination-storage-area with flexible partition screens, than a gray container. The problem?

Employers quickly saw they could cut costs by reconfiguring the units into smaller, box-like spaces – not considering how such work environments would affect employee happiness, productivity or collaboration (all things that can actually contribute to increased profits).

But thanks to today’s technology, and a few innovative trailblazers, we now know you can cut costs, while still giving staff the freedom they deserve.

The answer – incorporating cubicles as part of an overall collaborative workspace. By including breakout spaces, privacy nooks and plenty of tech-friendly work areas (along with a dependable WiFi connection) in your modern workspace design you can have the best of both worlds. With that in mind, let’s review some primary cubicle options:

Types of Cubicles

Modern Office Cubicles

These newer workstations offer a variety of customizable design solutions that focus heavily on user-experience. Here you’ll find a variety of ergonomic settings, reconfigurable storage features and size options. Oftentimes, modern cubicles include built-in desks instead of individual desks. One of coolest we’ve seen is Steelcase’s Brody WorkLounge .

Free Standing Cubicles

Free standing systems are mostly walls put around furniture. Since they are not attached to desks, cabinets or shelves, they are easy to construct and dismantle. As most are made of light materials, they are a prime choice for offices in transition. But, as aesthetics and other useful features go, they are quite limiting.

Panel Mounted Cubicles

Panel-mounted cubicles are typically attached to desks, shelves, cabinets and other worksurfaces. Since the furniture is attached to its walls, the company has the freedom to set them up however they choose. Also, since these cubicles are fixed to the tandem, they can offer a wide range of privacy options.

L-Shaped/U-Shaped Cubicles

As the name suggests, these cubicles are designed in the form of the letters L and U. The former can be occupied by an individual or shared, and come with individual partitions. The latter generally accommodate a single employee and are known for a higher level of privacy.

Ergonomic Office Cubicles

These are simply cubicle-centric workspaces designed with optimum comfort in mind: Lighting, acoustics and chairs for guests. Think of them like private offices without the actual door and walls.

Additional Cubicle Options

  • Easy-to-clean, smooth surfaces (made of plastic, laminate or PVC).
  • Electrical configurations that allow convenient running of power.
  • Transparent walls (trading more light for less privacy).

Keep in mind: There is significant overlap between types of cubicles. Thus, a cubicle could be modern, ergonomic and U-shaped. An experienced interior solutions expert can work with you to determine which combination of cubicle features would be right for your office.

Contact us for a free consultation.