Office vs Cubicle – Which is Best?

Since 1967, when cubicles first became a part of businesses, the debate between the office and the cubicle became a real thing. Cubicles were supposed to bring more efficiency to businesses, but they may have failed in this endeavor. Some have claimed that cubicles hurt creativity and caused workplaces to become dysfunctional.

Today, there are some that see a cubicle as an outdated invention much like the fax machine. Open work spaces and collaborative offices have become the new thing, causing the office vs cubicle debate to take on a new life. Here’s a look at both offices and cubicles, along with which one is the best choices.

The cubicle

While there are plenty of negative things that can be said about cubicles, they do bring some benefits. Some of the main benefits associated with cubicles include:

  • Possible increase in opportunities
  • Better productivity
  • Better relationships with colleagues
  • Ability for personal expression

Many businesses believe cubicles allow workers to be next to each other, which makes for better overall opportunities. This comes from the ability of one company employee getting to sit next to another and bounce ideas off each other.

It’s also considered a great way to improve relationships between colleagues as they work close to each other. Some also think cubicles can lead to better productivity as workers are less likely to do things they shouldn’t be doing. Of course, with your own cubicle, you have the advantage of some wall space and the ability for some personal expression.

The office

Shut the door and gain privacy to get more work done – that’s what some believe is the largest benefit of an actual office. Many believe an office is also given to those that have achieved something, so it represents a sense of accomplishment. It can also be looked at as improved job security and a bit of a safer area since there’s a door or clear entryway.

For many workers, privacy equals more productivity. Shutting out distractions of other employees makes it possible to get more done. However, other distractions can still creep in, such as social media and phone calls.

With the door closed, it’s a bit of a safe haven because others won’t come in without knocking. However, many companies have an open-door policy, which makes it still possible for people to pop in here and there interrupting the privacy aspect.

Why workers hate cubicles

A new study from the University of Sydney, Australia proves why cubicles may be a horrible idea. The study revealed that about 60% of workers stuck in cubicles don’t enjoy the lack of sound privacy. Workers find this frustrating and this even extended to about half of workers in offices with an open plan.

Other studies have shown that cubicle workers are the least happy. A paper published after a survey of 42,000 workers across Canada, Australia, U.S and Finland called Workspace Satisfaction: The privacy-communication trade-off in open-plan offices found that more than 30% of those workers without a private office were frustrated with the lack of visual privacy and even more complained about sound privacy issues.

The research also shows that even those working in private offices cannot control what they hear and lack sound privacy. However, workers in enclosed offices are the happiest compared to those working in cubicles or even open-office plans. Cubicle workers with high partitions were found to be the least happy.

Office vs cubicle: Which is better?

After looking at the benefits and the research, it’s pretty clear that when it comes to an office vs cubicle, a private office is best for most workers. If you want to increase productivity, give your workers a sense of job security and keep the noise and visual privacy complaints to a minimum, skip the cubicle set up and choose private offices.

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