Just a few short years ago, it looked like the office cubicle might be on its way out. After all, why would someone bother with the traditional cube farm when they could give all their employees laptops, knock down some walls, and save a bundle with an open plan office?
Then people started working in open plan offices, discovered that the noise level and privacy issues made them less-than-ideal for certain types of businesses, and they turned back to the cubicle for answers.
The cubicle, being the reliable fixture of office life that it is, evolved to suit their needs. Here’s how the cubicle has changed for the better:
1. More Usable Space
“We went from everybody having these big CRT screens and a corner work surface that would accommodate that to all flat-panel monitors now, so you don’t need these big, deep work surfaces anymore,” says Scott Machabee, president and owner of Machabee Office Environments, in an interview with Nevada Business.
The result is less space, but more space you can use. Think about the dust bunnies that used to collect behind your gigantic old monitor, and you’ll see what we mean.
2. More Places to Plug In
Modern cubicles are built with plenty of outlets to accommodate all those space-saving, productivity-enhancing mobile devices. Between laptops, tablets, and smartphones, there’s really no need to have a lot of paper files or giant, stationary pieces of equipment. Today’s worker needs more electricity and less space, and that’s exactly what modern cubicles provide.
3. More Natural Light
Forget those old-school burlap cubicles with the six-foot-high walls. Today’s cubes offer a bit of privacy and help define your space, but without cutting you off from that precious, mood-boosting sunshine. And never mind those old-fashioned fluorescents: today’s office cubicles are set up for task lighting, which prevents eye strain while sparing workers the annoyance of toiling away under unflattering yellow bulbs.
4. More Collaborative Space
Even companies that don’t want completely open office spaces still need room for people to gather and share thoughts about projects. The new cubicles make it easier to meet without booking a conference room.
5. More Flexibility
In fact, today’s cubicles might not even look like cubicles at all. Paul Higgs, Operations Manager/Business Development for Office Furniture USA, extols the virtues of a different kind of cubicle: “a big trend toward what they call benching systems and open-plan desking systems, where everyone has his own space but it’s actually very, very open. It’s no longer the cubicle walls like you used to see.”