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5 Decorating Trends to Use in Your Office Design in 2016

When your employees spend the best part of their week in your office, making them feel at home is a great way to keep morale high and thank them for their hard work.  You don’t have to go full-Google with slides and lap pools to be on the modern edge of office design, though.  Using some of the modern home design trends into your office will keep your business feeling current and comfortable.  Here are five different 2016 decorating trends to use in your office design and make your employees feel at home.

Add a Delicate Pastel Touch

Pastels

Every year, Pantone announces its colors of the year, which has a major influence on interior design for the entire year.  In 2016, the chosen Pantone colors are Rose Quartz and Serenity, a pastel pink and blue.  These colors have encouraged the design world to embrace pastels of all shades this year.

Pastel shades are soothing and unobtrusive, making them good colors to use in an office.  While brighter tones might make employees uncomfortable and fidgety, pastels will add color without being distracting.

Pastel pinks and blues can make a space feel a little bit more like a nursery, which is not ideal for making your employees feel like they're in a professional environment.  A pastel green, however, is a nice gender-neutral tone that has a calming influence.  Green is one of the easiest colors on the eye, making it a perfect choice for color that won't distract in an office.  A light shade of pastel green paint is a nice way to update those yellow-beige or off-white walls that plague so many office designs.

If you want to create a more sophisticated tone than pastels alone can provide, they pair well with blacks and dark tones of grey.  If you decide to do pastel colors on your walls, painting the trim black or using black furnishings can instantly make your office feel very sophisticated and modern.  If you’re not ready to repaint the office, pastel accents like wall art or upholstered chairs can add a breath of fresh air to an office design heavy on dark designs.  Something small and thoughtful, like pastel colored ergonomic pillows for your employee’s black desk chairs, adds both an elevated design touch and a practical source of comfort to your dedicated workers.

 

Bring in Bold Prints

Floral Print

If pastel colors don’t quite match your bold company image, you might instead want to try the trend of bright and colorful nature prints.  Modern leaf and flower-inspired fabric prints in bold colors are tantalizing designers this year, and they’re a great way to add some life and pizazz to a modern office.  If you’re in the market for cushy chairs for guests (or for comfortable employee gathering places), finding some with bold prints in your company colors will keep your space fun and fresh.

You can also use these fabric prints to add some functional color to your office walls.  Cork bulletin boards can be covered in the lively fabric to serve as both wall decoration and a handy place for employee communication.

 

Grow Some Greenery

Desk Plant

Don’t stop at fabric prints when bringing some nature into your office design!  Using real plants as decor is another 2016 design trend that is perfect for a professional setting.  Plants can make your office air fresh and help employees feel focused and happy, so even if this wasn’t a current trend, we’d still encourage you to adopt it.

If you’re going to bring live plants into your office, you’ll want to choose hardy houseplants that clean the air.  Spider plants, snake plants, and mums are just a few of the wonderful plants to grow in the common areas of your office, greeting employees and guests alike with pretty greenery and fresher air.

If you don’t want to be responsible for the care of live plants, you can still encourage employees to decorate their personal work area with living greenery.  Consider having a plant sale for a fundraiser, or celebrate a special occasion by hosting a pot decorating contest.  Employees can add their personal touch to a potted plant by painting and embellishing the pot. The winning employee could get a small prize, like a gift card or a candy bar.

 

Embrace Curves

Kingsburg Espresso L-Shape Bow Front Desk
For a long time, straight and clean lines have been synonymous with contemporary design.  In 2016, this trend is shifting to embrace the softer, more organic curved lines in furniture.  These curves feel more natural and welcoming than the stark squares and rectangles we’ve become used to seeing.  If you’re in the market for new office furnishings, you might want to consider finding desks and cubicles that have at least some curvaceous elements to their design.  These organic lines will go a long way toward adding movement and interest to your office design, breaking you and your employees free from the stagnant nature of rectangular desks and cube walls.

 

Restore Life to Old Furniture

Restore old furniture: decorating trends to use in your office design

As we continue to become more eco-conscious in 2016, more and more people are embracing reused and recycled design elements in their homes.  Reclaimed wood is an increasingly popular building material, and many people are joining the DIY restoration movement for their home furnishings.  By refurbishing old furniture, people are enjoying more customized pieces for their homes while saving both money and the environment from further manufacturing waste.

Most businesses don’t have the time to hunt through Pinterest for DIY instructions and then refurbish old pieces for each of their employees to use.  This doesn’t mean your company can’t still be a part of this eco-friendly movement.  Buying restored office furniture is a great way for any company to get the trendy office design they want at a fraction of the cost.  In addition to saving money on your furniture, you also get to participate in the most environmentally-friendly design trend of 2016.  That is something both you and your employees can feel good about.
Let us know in the comments which 2016 decorating trends you think would work best in your office!

Posted by Amanda Carman

Designing an Office That Works for Introverts

Offices have long emphasized quiet and isolated work spaces, but lately we’ve been moving more toward an open and social work environment.  On the surface, this seems like an improvement for everyone.  Work is more fun for employees in a casual space where you can chat freely with your coworkers.  The company benefits from a more efficient use of space and the new ideas that come from easier collaboration between employees.

The open office trend seems like a win-win situation, particularly if you are an extrovert, the sort of person who gets energized by talking to other people.  However, while extroverts might thrive in this collaborative and busy environment, your introverted employees are more likely to struggle to maintain their productivity and workplace satisfaction.  If you’re noticing several of your employees fighting to meet deadlines and quotas or looking constantly exhausted in the office, you may need to take a second look at your layout to make sure you have an office design that works for introverts as well as it does for extroverts.

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Posted by Amanda Carman

Office Designs for 3 Popular Leadership Styles

Strong leadership is vital to any successful office, but not one style of leadership works for every company, or even every department within a company.  One of the biggest challenges managers face is finding and developing the best leadership style to motivate their employees to complete work on time and to company standards.

Just as leadership style needs to be adjusted for the unique needs of a department, office design should be adjusted to accommodate these leadership styles.  Here are just a few ways you can adjust your department’s office design to match your leadership style.

Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

 Laissez-Faire Leadership Style

The laissez-faire leadership style is one of the most laid-back styles a manager can implement.  This style delegates most of the responsibility for completing quality work to individual employees, with little supervision and interference from the manager.  It is one of the most difficult management styles to perform successfully, and requires the greatest amount of trust of any leadership style. In the right environment, however, the laissez-faire leadership style can be very effective.

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Posted by Amanda Carman

Avoid Trends and Make a Smart Choice for Your Office Design

Office Design Trends to Be Avoided

Office design trends, once primarily a feature of the worlds of fashion and home design, have moved increasingly into the office space.  People look to hip, successful companies like Google and see their unusual office designs, often featuring amenities like slides, free snacks, and game rooms.  Articles are written equating the success of these companies to their unique environments, or listing the trendy amenities that will attract young millennial workers to your office.  While features like slides and in-office daycare facilities aren’t possible for many companies, other easy-to-add features like colorful walls, game rooms, and open office plans have become commonly adopted trends.

While a good office design is an essential feature to encourage employee satisfaction and productivity, what defines “good design” is more about the specific needs of your company than it is about current office design trends.  Chasing office design trends is at best an inefficient use of time and money, and at worst a colossal waste of funds with a powerfully negative effect on productivity.  Before you embrace a trend, take the time to think about how it will really work in your office.

Does Your Company Run on Collaboration or Concentration?

Collaborative Work Environment

Out of all the office design trends, none has taken off more ubiquitously than the open office design.  It’s not hard to see why.  The big, open spaces look far more modern than the cubicles we’ve come to associate with the traditional office.  Natural light from office windows is no longer impeded by tall cubicle walls, making the space seem bright and fresh.  Employees can mingle easily and share ideas.  And, let’s face it, it’s a lot cheaper to fill your office with more people when you have an open floor plan.

When presented with these benefits, it’s easy to see why so many businesses have been eager to jump on the open office bandwagon.  Before you join them, however, you need to really evaluate how your business functions.  Do your employees require a lot of collaboration to do their work, or is that just a distraction?  Creative departments might benefit from an open floor plan, while writers and programmers might need more privacy and quiet to concentrate.  Any business that relies on making frequent client calls will also benefit more from the relative quiet of a cubicle setup.

Sometimes you can find a good compromise between the trending open office and the private cubicle space.  As ArchDaily reports, Pixar discovered the efficiency of providing private offices surrounding an open central space where people can meet and mingle.  The private offices allow artists, writers, and animators to close their doors and concentrate on their work, but it’s still very easy to step outside and collaborate with other creatives in the company.

Do You Have a Healthy Corporate Culture Without the Gimmicks?

Unhealthy Culture

Having a great corporate culture is a priority for many businesses that want to attract young, top-tier talent.  We’ve all heard about the cool companies that have game rooms, office pets, and free alcohol, and it’s easy to assume that these amenities are corporate culture rather than the result of an existing corporate culture.  As a result, some companies decide to add these amenities to fight back against issues of high turnover and low engagement.  However, without a healthy corporate culture behind these amenities, no amount of free snacks will make your employees happy in their jobs.

A healthy corporate culture is built on a mutual respect between employees and their managers.  It features transparency and open communication.  Employees in a healthy culture feel like part of a team, not a cog in a machine. They are confident that their voices will be heard, their ideas considered, and their concerns addressed without fear of punishment.

If your culture is unhealthy- if employees feel powerless in their jobs, live in fear of office bullies, or are under constant stress from long hours or low wages- you can reasonably expect one of two results when incorporating trendy new amenities in your office.  Fearful employees will be unlikely to make much use of the new, fun additions, and overly stressed ones might start taking advantage of them out of a bitter sense of being “owed” something in return for their working conditions.  Either way, the new amenities don’t achieve their intended purpose and end up being a waste of funds.

If you have a healthy culture, you don’t need trendy amenities to keep employees engaged and excited to be working with your company.  These amenities are only effective as an added incentive for currently engaged employees to relax and think more creatively and collaboratively at work.  They can’t serve as the foundation for your culture.

Keeping an eye on office design trends and the design decisions made by successful companies is a great way to get outside-the-box ideas for improving your own company.  The trap comes when you start thinking of the trends as a one-size-fits-all solution, or if you feel like your company needs to keep up with them in order to stay competitive.  In the end, an office design that works for the specific needs of your employees and a healthy, transparent workplace will pay off far more handsomely than any trend you see in an online article.

Have you ever incorporated a workplace trend in your office design?  What made you decide to do it, and how did it work for you?  We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

Photos via Pixabay
Posted by Amanda Carman

Create Trust and Transparency With Your Office Design

 The traditional way of conducting business is rapidly changing, largely in response to the technological and cultural shift caused by the both the increased influence of the Internet and the rise of a new generation in the workplace.  As neckties give way to hoodies and formal meetings make way for informal brainstorming sessions, one major trend is making a huge impact on the way businesses interact with their employees: the demand for transparency.

Transparency in the workplace manifests itself in several ways.  Regularly sharing open and honest information about company performance and goals, providing regular feedback and updates on projects, and creating a safe space for employees to share concerns and ideas are all important aspects of a transparent workplace.  Even some of the “fluffier” work trends, like casual dress codes and flexible schedules, are a manifestation of this desire for transparency at work.  At its heart, the demand for workplace transparency is an expression of the need for trust, respect, and understanding.  Employees devote a huge percentage of their prime years to the workplace, so it should be no surprise that in return they are now asking to be treated as trusted adults with human needs, rather than as professional simulacra simply there to perform a job.

Most companies are recognizing the value of transparency, not only to employee happiness but also to the company’s performance.  Employees who understand the goals and direction of a project are more able to engage themselves in the work required to achieve those goals.  Having more people in possession of vital information means more minds are available to formulate creative solutions to problems or offer suggestions for improvements.  Creating a safe space for employees to talk about challenges and concerns gives managers an opportunity to identify logistical problems, like workflow management issues, before they become overwhelming and costly to fix.

Creating a transparent workplace environment largely relies on good communication habits, and the design of your office can help encourage these habits.  Whether you’re moving to a new office, opening a new business, or simply seeking an update to your current layout, keep these design ideas in mind to promote transparency in your workplace.

Say Goodbye to the Sprawling Corner Office

Spacious Corner Office

The first step to introducing more transparency to your office is to remove unnecessary barriers to communication.  The spacious corner office is an icon of the traditional workplace culture, but it is much more a status symbol than it is a functional use of space.  Unless you need to regularly meet with groups of clients (and the conference room isn’t a viable option), the spacious corner office as a status symbol merely creates an artificial divide between management and their teams.

To foster transparency and open communication, it’s better for managers to have office spaces that feel approachable and welcoming than to have spaces that remind visitors of their high level in the company.  There are a few options for achieving this goal in your office design, depending upon the responsibilities and needs of your managers.

A cubicle without a door will be one of the most inviting ways to welcome employees to have an open discourse with managers.  Cubicles can be placed in the center of the action on the floor, keeping management connected to the day-to-day activities of their employees more effectively than if they were sequestered in a corner office.  A manager’s cubicle can still be beautifully designed, like our Kimball wood trim used office cubicles, and it should be more spacious than a regular cubicle in order to comfortably seat one or two other employees for casual check-ins or quick brainstorming sessions.

For some managers, a door is non-negotiable, however.  They may need to have the ability to shut out visitors for brief periods of time in order to make important phone calls or meet clients without interruptions.  A door might also help employees feel more comfortable bringing forth concerns, knowing that they won’t be overheard by the whole office.  Our used Steelcase Montage offices with convenient pocket doors are an ideal fit for managers with a need for a little more privacy while maintaining transparency.  The doors can be left open unless privacy is required by an employee or client.  When the doors are closed, the glass walls allow employees to see why the manager is occupied while the insulated fabric panels keep conversations private.  These offices can also be placed in the middle of the team’s floor for easy access to management and more open flow of communication.

Design Natural Places for Employees to Congregate

Create areas for employees to congregate- Startup Stock Photos

Bloomberg, in their efforts to embrace transparency and communication in their offices, discovered the benefits of having places in the offices where people across the company meet and enjoy casual interactions. The break room doesn’t need to be the only place in your office where people from different departments can run into each other for casual chats.  Water coolers and coffee stations will draw employees from their desks throughout the day, so use them to make natural congregation spots for conversation and impromptu brainstorming.

Keep departments that could benefit from cross-communication near each other, and situate a water cooler or coffee station between them so that people from those departments are more likely to bump into each other every day.  To encourage conversation, try to give this space a sense of privacy, perhaps by laying out your cubicles in such a way to create a nook for this “refueling station.”

You can also make these nooks into small official "brain break" areas, and encourage employees to take a quick break to chat and get some space from whatever work problem they are facing.  Put some comfortable seating so multiple people can sit and talk about their projects, or just catch up with coworkers from other departments.

Create an Area for Public Brainstorming and Information

Create brainstorming areas for employees

One of the most direct ways you can use your office design to encourage transparency and communication is to create an accessible place for everyone in the office to see company news, success stories, and problems that need solving.  Try to position this information center somewhere where employees will see it frequently, like the break room, drink stations, or even outside of the bathrooms.

Having a specific place to display company news and information will help to communicate important updates and company goals without wasting time on extra meetings.  Including a space for the company and individual team leaders to post projects that require some extra ideas will help get outside perspective and generate more creative solutions.

With creative office design, you can help your managers and employees enjoy more effective communication and develop greater transparency in the workplace.  It can be a challenging task, but you don’t have to do it alone.  Arnold's Office Furniture can provide you with affordable used cubicles and office furniture, and our professional design team can create a unique solution for your transparent office design.  Once you’ve approved the new layout of your office, we will deliver and install so you don’t need to worry about a thing.  Contact us to learn more or to get a free quote.

Photos via Ramon FVelasquez and Startup Stock Photos
Posted by Amanda Carman

The Most Creative Ways to Decorate Your Office Cubicle for Christmas

The leaves have fallen, pumpkins are long gone and Thanksgiving is here – which can only mean one thing: it’s time to start decorating for Christmas! From classic Christmas vignettes to clever pop culture homages, we’ve got plenty of decoration tips, examples and ideas that’ll help make your cubicle the talk of the office this holiday season.

Turn your cubicle into a gingerbread house

Gingerbread-Collage-1024x10242

It’s entirely up to you whether or not you decorate with fake or real candy, just be prepared for a lot of drop-ins by hungry coworkers if you choose the latter. You’d be surprised what a little brown or red wrapping paper, Christmas lights, cardboard and cotton can do to an old, gray cubicle. Some of our all-time favorite gingerbread house-themed cubicles include Yule log screensavers, falling snow made from threaded cotton balls and plenty of Christmas lights. This gingerbread house cubicle gets the award for Best Use of Balloons.

 

Make it a charlie brown christmas

Charlie-brown-collage-1024x10241

It’s easy to take the Charlie Brown Christmas story a bunch of different directions. You can whip up Lucy’s doctor stand with some red wrapping paper, paper towel rolls and cotton; paste cutouts of the singing characters onto a wall, complete with hanging lights; or you can just put ol’ Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree on your desk and call it a day.

 

Walking in a winter wonderland

Winter-Wonderland-Collage-600x600

There’s no rule that you have to use red and green when decorating your office or cubicle for Christmas. Sometimes it’s easier to pick a color scheme and stick to it. Gold and silver works great, as does blue, white and silver. A quick and easy way to add pops of holiday color to your office is by lining the top of your cubicle walls with colored garland. One of the most unique ways to turn your office into a winter wonderland is with paper snowflakes! You can ask your coworkers to cut some out and then hang them from the ceiling, too.

 

Make the most of the materials you have

Log-Cabin-Collage-600x600

Just because you want to decorate your cubicle for Christmas doesn’t mean you have to blow half your paycheck on supplies and decorations. Sometimes the best Christmas decorations are made out of things you’ve got laying around the office already. It’s amazing what can be done with some paper cups and garland. Save up the old paper towel tubes and wrap them in red and white ribbon (or just use Sharpies) to turn them into candy canes, or if your job allows access to larger sized cardboard tubes you can turn your cubicle into a log cabin! This cubicle-turned-log-cabin gets the award for Most Creative Use of Cardboard Tubes.

 

create a christmas village

Village-Collage-600x600

When it comes to decorations, the more the merrier! This is your chance to get everyone in the office involved, regardless of religion. If you have some humbugs in the office you can just decorate a group of cubicles or single door. Or, you can turn it into a teambuilding exercise and have a Christmas decorating contest. When it comes to decorating en masse, more is more. Be sure to include giant lighted candy canes, tons of fluffy snow and copious amounts of lights. We love what happened when the entire group at this office banded together to create Snowman Park.

 

you can't go wrong with the classics

Wrap-Collage-600x600

Sometimes the simplest decorations are the best. Like taking wrapping paper and ribbons and turning everything into a present. You can wrap the fronts of your filing cabinet drawers in wrapping paper for a functional decoration, you can plaster the outer walls of your cubicle in wrapping paper, complete with a ribbon and tag from Santa, or you can just take a long vacation and maybe your coworkers will wrap your entire desk, cubicle and chair for you like they did to this guy.

 

Hopefully you have plenty of ideas to decorate your cubicle with this Christmas season. We’re always looking for new ideas; so if you already decorated and want to show off, share your photos with us! We may even include them in an upcoming post. If you’re interested in learning more about our vast inventory of cubicles, request a quote and talk with our team today.

Posted by Arnold's
steelcase1 Steelcase-Susan_Cain-Private Offices

Cubicles: Defining Our Workspace

Love them or hate them, cubicles have played a big role in the life of the white-collar American for 50+ years, with no signs of slowing. In the beginning, cubicles were invented to 1) maximize floor space and, 2) give employees their own little slice of office to call their own.

Basically, the cubicle was an invention born from our innate desire to control our workspace. Lecturer at Leeds University Business School and workspace design specialist, Dr. Matthew Davis points out that, “We have a really innate instinct about space and making things our own.”

The Great Debate: Open Offices vs. Cubicle Farms

Cubicles have been the basis of inter-office debates for years now. Some say they waste space and have the potential to stifle creativity, and prefer an open workplace environment. However, there’s a lot of research out there showing that open office plans can actually be disruptive to individuals’ focus, morale and health, for introverts especially. So how do you decide on the perfect office layout for your company’s needs?

The key to choosing the right type of workspace design, elements and layout depend on a number of factors, but the most important one you’ll want to pay attention to is balance. Keeping the wants and needs of your employees in mind will help you strike that perfect balance between privacy and proficiency.

Steelcase-Susan_Cain-Private Offices

These private offices from the Steelcase and Susan Cain collaboration allow for workers to focus amidst office distractions. (source)

The Evolution of Cubicle Uses over Time

One big difference between old-school cubicles and modern cubicles is that cubicles aren’t just used as traditional workspaces anymore. They’re used as private offices, for collaborative workstations, in call centers, even as quiet spaces. Cubicle uses have evolved just like the definition of the traditional workplace has. First, let’s take a look at your traditional call center cubicle.

Call Center Cubicles

The main purpose of a call center cubicle is to provide a semi-private setting from which an individual can make calls and perform the other administrative tasks required. Your basic call center cubicle will take up a small footprint and includes walls that are short enough for a supervisor to monitor calls and perform on-the-spot training. Call center cubicles typically include enough room for one individual, a chair, a notepad and computer, and a phone. They can also be called center stations or telemarketing cubicles, but the main function remains the same.

Private Offices in Open Floor Plans

Collaboration is great and all, but sometimes distractions pop up and it can be hard to get any serious work done in an office with an open floor plan. To solve these and other frustrations, there’s the private office cubicle. But don’t be fooled — they may be called cubicles, but they’re actually state-of-the-art instant executive offices. Many modular private offices offer glass walls to maximize natural lighting and so the employee doesn’t feel shut off from the rest of the team. The private glass- or wood-paneled cubicles have doors and can be customized to include other features while still providing privacy when needed.

Agile Workstations for Collaboration

Just when you thought you had the whole “open office plan,” thing under control, along came the Agile office layout. The key to successfully utilizing an Agile office layout is by creating collaborative workstations throughout the office. Instead of each developer (Agile methodology, after all, came from the techie world) or worker having their own cubicle, there are collaborative workstations strategically placed throughout. The purpose of a collaborative workstation can vary as much as the look and feel itself.

Some collaborative workstations come equipped with soundproof walls, standing tables, and high-definition videoconferencing features to accommodate those who are working remotely. Other collaborative workstations are set up to serve the function of meeting rooms and can be equipped with comfy couches, built-in interactive screens, hidden storage areas and lots of lighting. One of the most important principles to take from Agile office design is the need for both private spaces as well as collaborative workstations.

Steelcase-Connect_Hub

An office next to a Connect Hub, a perfect example of an Agile workstation. (source)

Cubicle Relaxation Stations and Quiet Spaces

Melanie Redman, the senior design researcher of office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, said, “We’re wired to be social, but we’re also wired to be individuals.” Designating certain cubicles as shared quiet spaces or relaxation stations can help give workers a place to unwind and recharge, whether between meetings or to take a break during especially taxing projects. Some of the best uses of cubicles as quiet spaces involve mixing an intentional light source (like the natural lighting from floor-to-ceiling windows) with comfy furniture and places to relax, meditate, focus – even power nap.

The bottom line is that when it comes to office design, you should always consult with your employees and aim to strike a balance between privacy and productivity. We hope you’ve gained some inspiration from our write-up and that the next time you’re in charge of ordering new furniture for the office you’re able to think outside the cubicle!

Posted by James Wilkie

Cubicles 101: Choosing the Right Size Cubicle for Your Office

The modern workspace has undergone some big changes over the past few years thanks to the rise of coworking spaces, desk sharing and virtual offices. But no matter how far we stray from the traditional office layout, the cubicle remains, though it too has undergone some serious evolution. If you’re wondering what type of cubicle to consider for your office, or if you want to learn a little more about the most common piece of modern office furniture, keep on reading!

Herman Miller Action Office II ca 1976

From the Action Office & Beyond: A Brief History of Cubicles

The office cubicle as we know it today was invented in 1967 by Robert Propst, a designer at Herman Miller. The very first office cubicle, called the Action Office II (AO2), was developed as a solution to suit the changing needs of office employees in the 60s. The goal was simple: to define an office space that was capable of suiting an employee’s changing needs, while allowing some privacy and giving employees the ability to personalize their workspace—all without taking up too much space. A man ahead of his time, Propst was even the first proponent of standing desks!

2015_Federal_Reserve_Bank_of_New_York_from_west

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was the first office to use Propst’s cubicle design, the AO2.

Propst’s concept hinged on having a two- to three-sided vertical division that defined territory and allowed privacy, without alienating the employee from the sounds and activities going on around them. His original idea was to create open “bullpens,” the panels of which would be joined at 120-degree angles. Unfortunately, management realized they could fit more employees if the offices were cube-shaped, so they constructed connectors with 90-degree angles and voila! The cubicle as we know it was born.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York was the first office to use Propst’s AO2, arranging the “pods” in groups of four, each with an L-shaped desk and overhead storage. These days, modern cubicles come in different heights, shapes, sizes and materials. Banking and insurance businesses were some of the first to adopt open plan office systems, but nearly every industry has followed, specifically service industries.

Modern cubicles include built-in desks, storage space, and can even include various ergonomic features like well-placed lighting and footrests. Other types of cubicles that you may see at banks or in hospitals are little more than desks with dividers. The type of cubicle you need depends on how you’re planning to use it and what type of business you’re looking to furnish.

Different Types of Cubicles

Call Center Cubicles - Call center cubicles, also called telemarketing cubicles, are the right choice when a small footprint is desired. Call center cubicles are smaller than average office cubicles and are made with enough workspace for one person, similar to study booths in libraries. They usually have shorter walls than average office cubicles, and the panels often extend only to the edge of the desk. Many modern call center cubicles offer glass panels to provide transparency without making employees feel like they’re under a microscope. Common call center footprints are:

  • 2’x5’
  • 4’x4’
  • 5’x5’

Standard Office Cubicles – Standard office cubicles can be extraordinarily spacious and are available with a variety of layouts and worksurfaces. Standard office cubicles are also designed for one person to use, but there’s enough room for an extra chair in case a visitor stops by, as well as space for any materials or equipment the worker may need (think computers, files, phones and notepads). Worksurfaces in standard cubicles are typically l-shaped or u-shaped and come in both high- and low-panel options. Manager cubicles can be constructed with larger footprints than standard and in custom dimensions, but generally speaking, standard cubicle footprints are:

  • 6’x6’
  • 6’x8’
  • 8’x8’

basic cubicle design 2015

Today's cubicles are used in private offices, call centers and beyond.

Modular Offices - One of the main complaints about cubicles is that they eliminated the private office. There are still plenty of cases where privacy is necessary, like human resources and when delivering private financial or medical information, and modular offices are the solution. Modular offices, also called executive offices or high-walled cubicles with doors, have a much larger footprint than cubicles. In modular offices, the walls are generally at least 12’ high and can come in glass or solid paneling, perfect for giving decision makers levels of privacy while keeping an open office plan. When you need an instant executive office, modular offices are the only way to go.

Standard Cubicle Heights

Unless you’re ordering a custom cubicle, there are three basic cubicle heights: low (42” wall height), medium (53” wall height), and high (66” wall height).  Check out our blog post to see what your office cube height says about your company.

Generally speaking, 5x5 cubicles have medium walls, so they’re good in industries where supervisors need to keep an eye on employees, and in nearly every corporate situation. Storage space in 5x5 cubicles tends to be a little more limited than cubicles with a larger footprint, but it’s still easy to find 5x5 cubicles with plenty of drawers, pedestals and overhead storage options.

6x6 cubicles can have medium walls or high walls, and the extra floor space makes it easy to squeeze in an extra filing pedestal or two. Depending on the layout you choose, 6x6 cubicles offer plenty of open space for collaboration with colleagues. Some 6x6 cubicles even have additional shelving units, lighting options, and other high tech features.

How Many Cubicles Can I Fit in my Office?

When determining what size cubicle you need there are several factors to consider: the manufacturer, panel thickness, clustering capabilities, and work surface models.  Popular cubicle sizes are approximately 9’x12’ for a middle manager or engineer who has multiple computer systems; 8’x0’ for senior staff members or engineers; 8’x8’ for general staff; and 6’x6’ for administrative and telephone support personnel.

Evolution of the Action Office II ca1978

While computers have evolved leaps and bounds since 1978, the typical office design has largely stayed the same, thanks to Propst.

The actual square footage that you have available to pack with cubicles depends on a series of metrics essential for analyzing the efficiency of any office space. These metrics are the Gross Density Ratio, usually between 175 useable square feet (USF)/person to 325 USF/person; and the Enclosed to Open Ratio. There are also other factors to consider like the Circulation Factor and room sizes, all of which an architect or space planning professional can assist with.

Cubicle Worksurface and Materials

Cubicles these days can be constructed in almost any material desired. Cubicle panels and partitions can be built out of fine exotic woods, soft fabrics, glass, metal and more. The counter or desk component of an office cubicle is typically constructed from laminate or wood. While some of the more popular cubicle materials can get pricey, it’s easy to find and buy high-quality used and refurbished cubicles online.

Choosing cubicles for your office can be a bit of a pain if you don’t know what your options are, so if you’re looking for like-new cubicles for an office or workspace, give us a call today. We’ll help steer you in the right direction with our decades of expertise and well-stocked inventory.

2015 herman miller cubicle

Cubicles today capture the tone of a business, with modern touches to make working easier. Browse our selection of cubicles.

Posted by James Wilkie
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10 Cool Things About Working in the Pixar Office

Most of us slog away at our keyboards, hidden away in generic burlap office cubicles, with no idea of any other work environment. The folks at Pixar are here to ruin that for you, by showing you what their employees think is normal office life. How cool is their daily grind? Picture rooms full of cereal, with cartoon characters at every turn, and ping-pong tables fighting foosball tables for the most-fun office furniture award.

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Posted by James Wilkie

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