The classic cubicle farm office was commonplace in the 80s and 90s, appearing in a number of films. Most of the time, these working environments appeared to be dreary, full of miserable employees in endless grey cubicles. Unfortunately, research shows that workplaces which use cubicles are in fact, more conducive to unhappy employees.
However, there are ways to utilise cubicles and enjoy a positive impact on your business and your people. Let’s take a look at whether or not you should utilise office cubicles in your fresh Sydney office fit-out.
A brief history of office cubicles
Office cubicles first came into vogue in the late 1960s. The creator of the office cubicle had planned for these areas to be used as spacious, easy-to-erect personal offices. However, businesses around the world saw cubicles as a chance to cram as many workers into a space as possible, and so the typical office cubicle became cramped and dark.
Office cubicles continued to remain popular through the 80s and 90s, until the open-plan workspace began to take hold. This was more affordable and allowed for easier communication and collaboration between employees. However, the open-plan office came with its own set of unique problems.
The benefits of office cubicles
Despite the negativity surrounding office cubicles, there are some noteworthy benefits to this kind of office layout… when they are utilised properly.
It’s clear that office cubicles offer more privacy than the standard open-plan office. In a cubicle, employees do not have to worry about people looking over their shoulder, and this environment makes it safer to access sensitive information. Research has shown that employees value privacy dearly, and the lack thereof can seriously impact their feelings about the workplace.
Peace and quiet
Everyone works a little differently. Some people thrive in a loud, bustling workplace. But many others a more productive when they have peace and quiet. Cubicles do offer benefits when it comes to noise cancellation and therefore, they can help those workers who prefer a quiet environment to be more productive.
Less chance of distraction
The nature of the office cubicle means that visual and auditory distractions are greatly reduced, which can be a fantastic benefit for employees and business owners alike. Distraction in the office has been shown to hugely impact accuracy of work, making employees much more likely to make mistakes. Workers in cubicles are therefore, more accurate in their work.
Office cubicles are much more affordable than private offices, particularly when they are smaller and your office space allows for a number of them. This is partly what drove the huge increase in office cubicles during the 80s and 90s. However, these days there are many more options available that are more conducive to a productive, happy workplace.
The downside to office cubicles
While there are benefits to office cubicles, there are also serious drawbacks to this type of office environment. Here are the most prominent downsides.
Lack of light
Cubicles have long been associated with a distinct lack of light. They are often dreary, especially when partitions are high. Unfortunately, this blocks any chance of natural light finding its way into your employees’ space, meaning the only source of light is often harsh LED lighting. In the long run, this can have a negative impact on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Separation from socialisation
Office partitions will keep your people from interacting with each other throughout the work day, which can have implications for their happiness levels in the workplace. What’s more, it stifles socialisation and the ideas and creativity that can come from this engagement. That means that both your people, and your business will be ultimately losing out.
The overall feel of office cubicles means creativity is often stifled. And as we mentioned above, a lack of interaction with other employees also impacts creativity at work. Businesses thrive on new ideas, so you simply must ensure that your people are in an environment where creativity is always encouraged.
Lower levels of happiness
Studies have shown that employees who work in ‘cubicle farms’ are far less happy than those in other office environments, including open-plan spaces. A range of factors come into play in these sorts of offices, which combine to affect your employees mental health, lower happiness, and even increase stress levels. Avoid this by refraining from creating a ‘cubicle farm’ style office.
They are often static
Most offices that use cubicles utilise types that are fixed to the floor, meaning there is little room for adaptability. One way to combat this problem is to create your office cubicles with moveable partitions, meaning you can easily reconfigure your workspace in short time. At Niche Projects, we’ve installed moveable partitions for businesses all over Sydney, ensuring a truly dynamic office fit-out.
How to maximise the cubicles in your office?
There are a number of ways to use office cubicles, and maximise the benefits that can come with them. At the end of the day, there are certain elements that are absolutely essential to the wellbeing and happiness of your people. These include light, the ability to communicate effectively and ample space to operate.
Hiring a professional Sydney office design company is the best way to ensure that your business utilises office cubicles in the right way. We make use of dynamic solutions like glass partitions (partly frosted), which can block out noise and visual distractions, while allowing light to flow through your office.
Other solutions include cubicles with only two or three walls, often made up of moveable partitions. This allows for privacy, but also ease of communication, flow of light and a general feeling of spaciousness.
The bottom line
Research tells us that in the end, employees who are working in cubicle offices with high walls are the unhappiest of all. And that includes those in a farm-like open-plan workspace. However, if those partitioned offices were to feel like real rooms, similar to private offices, everything changes. Your people will be happier, more productive, and more creative at work.
Get in touch with Niche Projects today for all of your Sydney office design and fit-out needs. We can’t wait to hear from you.