The Cubicle at Age 50: Alive and Well, or Dying Slowly?

office-cubicle-design-ImagePerhaps the most ubiquitous of all office space imagery, the cubicle—loved by many, feared by more—is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. That leaves those of us who care about offices and their design to wonder—is the cubicle thriving after all these years, or is the standard of office designs on its way out?

First, an aside on the cubicle’s cultural importance is in order. The cubicle has served as a central piece of imagery in some of the most savage satire directed at the corporate world. In the nineties, as the tech boom brought dot-com companies massive financial success, the world was introduced to Dilbert and to Mike Judge’s cult classic film Office Space. Both of these comic creations jabbed plenty at the conformist nature of the cubicle office, but deeper down, especially in Dilbert, some affection for the cubicle is evident.

Indeed, many office veterans admit to a fondness for the cubicle office layout. National Air Warehouse business development manager Ramon Kahn reminisces fondly about the years he worked in a cubicle. “You always have someone to interact with,” Kahn said. “If you are stuck in a rut there is always someone there to help.”

And Kahn isn’t alone. Michael Dunne, a public information officer at Pacific Continental Bank, loves his cubicle working life. “An office is a great enabler of the chronically sloppy and disorganized,” Dunne said. “Having a cubicle means you have to clean your desk and work area every evening—lest you be labeled ‘pig pen.’”

Some would suggest that the cubicle is dying, and point to the office stylings of tech giants Google and Facebook as proof. Google and Facebook’s office spaces feature wide-open spaces, where people sit and work by one another’s side with no cubicles or partitions of any sort. In fact, these tech titans and other companies have experimented increasingly with “standing desks,” which aim to improve employees’ posture by preventing too many long periods of sitting.

However, even Ramon Kahn admits that all is not always rosy with the cubicle office layout. “You can get stuck next to someone who is annoying, smelly, rude, awkward, or dramatic,” Kahn said. “Things can go sour pretty fast.”

Cubicles have their supporters and their mortal enemies, and this goes to show the diversity of tastes regarding the layout and organization of office spaces. Whatever your office design and planning needs are, Office Space Planners is here and ready to help make your vision a reality. Come find out more today!

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