The office cubicle has become a second home to many a worker. Its protective powers against the evil office monsters (bosses) that lurk outside the walls have helped workers to concentrate and feel secure while tackling the day's tasks. Revamping workplaces may mean that cubicles are on their way to office space Shangri-la. Recent developments in office organization have challenged the cubicle's supremacy by stepping outside of the box and bringing coworkers together.
Going "cube-less" is the newest trend in workspace design as companies opt for open-concept offices that allow for collaboration between workers and using space more efficiently. Anti-cube companies Cisco Systems and Intel are raving about the perceived benefits of breaking the barriers created by cubicles, including increases innovation and efficiency. Incorporating squishy couches, more tables and larger conference spaces would certainly relax any worker, but what about the other benefits? Perhaps not surprisingly, the demise of the cubicle has lead to a squeaky clean office lifestyle, literally and figuratively.
Dark and dingy cubicles can act as breeding grounds for thousands of germs that cling to the desktop and phone. Battling for cube domination against insects can also be an issue when food is left behind. Cubicles can also promote pack-rat-edness as workers tend to surround themselves with piles of possessions to feel at home.
Open-air advocates have faced fierce protest from long-time cubicle campaigners. The invent of the cubicle in the 1960s was based on the idea that the privacy and comfort provided by the cube can help with concentration levels, while blocking out phone calls from neighboring cubes. Although perhaps isolated, 18 percent of cubicle-dwellers say they could still use a little extra privacy. The cube size has melted by around 25% over the years, however, with average cubicle size sitting at 190 square feet in year 2000.
When it comes down to it, "happy workers are more productive", says John Labus, a workplace design specialist at Cisco Systems. Whether you're happy or not with cubicle-culture, the partition police are on the lookout for office offenders. Cubicle Judgment Day has arrived and even the most mod and user-friendly cube can't escape.