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Are 6×6 Cubicles Too Small for Comfort?

The Link Between Office Design and Employee Perception. Office Design Matters. Ready Cubicles Office Environments' guide to optimizing your San Diego office space.The trend toward miniaturization hasn’t just impacted the computer chip industry over the last 20 years. Modern cubicles have also shrunk as employers seek to make the most out of their office real estate. According to a report from Reel Grobman, fewer than 50% of organizations in the tech industry use standard 8×8 workstations. A shift toward much smaller 6×6 cubicles became prevalent around the year 2000. Now, some telemarketing firms even use cubes as small as 2×4. Ironically, working in a larger company tends to correlate with fewer square feet allocated per employee.

Today, the trend may be changing again. A few companies are making a point of purchasing larger cubicles to give employees a little more elbow room. Many more are focusing on enhancing comfort without actually increasing cubicle size. It appears that 6×6 cubicles can be perceived as reasonably spacious if an effort is made to use smart design.

Canada’s National Research Council has done quite a bit of experimentation on this topic. Here are some of their findings for ways to increase employee satisfaction in a cubicle-based work environment:

  • Arrange workstations so that as many workers as possible are near an exterior window or have one in their line of sight.
  • Use lower panel heights and pale color schemes to increase the penetration and reflection of natural light into the workspace.
  • Install lamps in each cubicle so employees can control light levels with their own dimmer switch.
  • Specify acoustic cubicle panels that are higher than the heads of seated employees.
  • Arrange workstation entrances so they are not facing high-traffic areas.
  • Check cubicle layout to ensure that ventilation is even and there are no uncomfortable drafts.

The NRC does recommend increasing cubicle size as one possible strategy to achieve better acoustic privacy. However, they also point out that the use of noise masking technology can serve a similar purpose. All in all, most of their recommendations can be implemented in an office setting where 6×6 cubicles are used. And, you can discuss all of these issues with our consultants during a free office design planning session.


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