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Are Modern Office Cubicles Improving?

Shortly after the creation of the original cubicle in the late 1960s, it became the nemesis of office workers everywhere. The intent of the cube was to give employees a larger worksurface than that offered by a desk. It was also meant to provide mid-level workers with the feeling of prestige that comes with having a somewhat private office space. However, economic pressures soon turned a good idea into a poorly implemented one. Take a look at this Fortune magazine article to uncover the reasons (hint: IRS asset depreciation rules are partly to blame). The trend toward cramped cubicles and the enforcement of rigid uniformity on the work environment are two of the most lamentable outcomes.

However, cubicles designed for today’s marketplace seek to rectify both of these issues. Employers are weighing the cost of worker dissatisfaction and loss of productivity and deciding that the cube concept needs a makeover. This is why modern office cubicles are much more likely to be crafted around the comfort of workers while still taking employer’s tight budgets into account.

Here are several of the options available for making the cubicle back into what it was meant to be – an efficient and enjoyable workspace for white collar employees:

  • Adjustable worksurface heights and other ergonomic features
  • Off module capabilities that permit greater customization of cube layout
  • Honeycomb designs that make the most of available space and feel more open
  • Light penetrable materials such as glass used in panels to make cubes less gloomy
  • Mobile panels and work tables that promote collaborative work

New cubicles are likely to offer individual workers greater control over how their workspace is configured. To find out more about why this is important, take a moment to read last week’s guest post from Herman Miller blog author Susan Koole Huls.


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