Pros for work cubicles?

My work has been redoing a chunk of the building and there have been rumors it will be cubicle space. Just found out that it’s true, and that I’ll be one of about 20 people going there. Yea.

I spent a decade in cubes in my previous job but graduated to an office here. I’ve loved having more room for my stuff, having pictures on the walls, making more noise, and more. There are some advantages for cubes though, right?


Gossiping is easier.

What manson1972 said

At least it’s not an open office?

Indeed – those are even worse.

Any actual “pros” for cubicles or an open office are pretty much only for the company, not the employees. It’s generally less expensive, you can get more employees into a given square footage of office space, and for those companies who want to keep a close eye on their employees, it probably makes it easier to do so.

From my experience, companies like to tout that such set-ups enhance communication between employees, and facilitate group work, but if they do so at all, I think it’s in a very modest way. What they do lead to is noisy work environments, where a conversation or a phone call is more likely to disrupt the people around you, and cause most of the employees to sit at their desks with headphones / earbuds in, to try to tune out some of the ambient noise.

I worked in both open and cubicle offices and prefer cubicles because they tend to be quieter (I work in accounting). Even half height dividers help muffle the sound of someone sitting down and talking on the phone or to someone else. There are two drawbacks I’ve experienced however. The first is that voices and sounds become directional. In the last place I worked. the cubicles were set up in two rows, directly across each other and I couldn’t hear my co-worker directly across me (partly because I’m partially deaf in my right ear), but could clearly hear the person behind him (at a diagonal to me. My boss who behind me experienced the same thing with an office diagonal to her. The other draw back is people talking through or across cubicles. I always made it a point get up and walk to the other persons desk and talk to them, even if they were beside or behind me. And it’s just common courtesy not to talk to someone whose back is to to you or you can’t make direct eye to eye contact with.

I had an office for a while years ago, and I honestly preferred the cubicle I had before it.

I’m one of those people who needs to have some level of racket in order to tune it out and work productively. If it’s too quiet, I start actively listening, and it’s more distracting than just background noise I can tune out.

Plus, my cubicle was near the printer, water cooler and the admin assistant’s desk. I was totally up on all the goings-on in the department because I had the ultimate eavesdropping cubicle.

Being in my own office off in the back was disconnecting, to say the least. I actively had to go seek people out to talk to and interact with, while in the cubicle, it was easy to just turn around and strike up a conversation, or talk across the dividers, etc…


I can see it being exciting for some people. Seeing others more often may be positive. OK, we’ve got one point for it.

I’m hoping one guy who seems very aggressive and . . . unfriendly? doesn’t like the new plan and leaves. I don’t want to be one cube away when he’s having a bad day.

You can inadvertently learn a lot of potentially useful information. Gossip still happens; it’s just more guarded. So if your neighbor is a big gossip, you’ll likely hear stuff you wouldn’t otherwise hear about. I’m in the camp that believes not all gossip is bad. Knowing your office politics is important. And you also develop institutional knowledge. I often will listen to how my cube neighbor answers questions, because inevitably his answer will contain information that I didn’t know. He also eavesdrops on me, so it’s all good. What often happens is that someone will ask either one of us a question and we will respond in unison. If we worked in separate office, we wouldn’t get to support each other like this.

There is also more opportunity for “bonding”. If someone tells a funny joke, everyone in that section of the cube farm will hear it and enjoy it.

This. Worst @#$%& thing ever.

I know that guy.

If background noise bothers you, the noise cancelling headphones they make today are excellent. They can almost perfectly block all the background noise and you’ll feel like you’re all alone.

Not all workplaces allow the use of earphones, much less headphones. You’re paid to concentrate on your work, not be distracted by music or news. And your boss and co-workers don’t want have to repeat what you should have heard the first time. I know noise-cancelling phones pass through speech, but the likelihood of your missing something said is you in increased by your listening to something else, even if it’s just white noise.

I’ve used earphones at work, but take my clue from those around me. If others are using them, especially the boss, I’ll use them, though usually only in one ear so I don’t miss someone talking or coming up to me.

IMO, using headphones is very rude. What you’re doing and listening to is more important an what’s going on around (even though speech is usually passed through noise-cancelling phones). It can be socially awkward too. You’re listening to your favorite song and you’re in your own world and smiling, and everyone else is consoling your co-worker who just got some bad news.

office > cubicle > open office

Open offices suck. I miss my cubicle.

Overhead storage can be a big plus, especially if you can store snacks there and lock it up when you leave. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve been in an open office for the last 7 years and would kill for a cube. One of the nice tall ones. Screw whoever came up with open offices.

However I get this feeling for some reason that if I had a private office id be fired in a month. Maybe out of sight out of mind.

I was in a cube for just over a year, and eavesdropping is about the only remotely positive thing I can think of.
Phone calls have to be made using a headset. And small meetings have to take place in a conference room instead of your office. (Like 3 person meetings.)
At least where I was everyone had a cube. One place I interviewed - and had no desire to go to - had the Dilbert structure of offices for managers and cubes for lackeys.

I am a manager and we are always trying to figure out how to squeeze the most people in the least space. I am always pushing back on this because the CEO (small company) had a tendency to look at a floor plan and show where we could jam in so many desks and chairs, and I would have to keep repeating, “You don’t need space for desks and chairs, you need space for people.”

I have never been a fan of cubicles. They are the worst of both worlds. The partitions provide no significant screening of noise, and cut off any meaningful communication.

The open office seems to be universally despised. I don’t espouse them, but my first job (1979) was in a big open space with a bunch of desks, maybe 20 people in this room. None of us minded. When you are out in the open you are much more sensitive that noise you make affects other people, so it was pretty quiet. You could see at a glance who was there and if you need to talk to someone briefly you just took a couple of steps; longer conversations you could go to a meeting room down the hall.

I actually found that being able to overhear the conversations meant that a lot of the time I could function as a sort of information broker/middleman- I’d hear the PC support guy and the ERP system administrator griping about something, and realize that the conversation that the network guy and the AD system administrator were talking about sounded similar. So I’d say “Hey- you might want to talk to Bob- he was experiencing something similar yesterday”. Or stuff like that.

We have tall cubicles. I like those since I need wall space. You can still hear what’s going on, but the nature of our work requires us to be up in each other’s business. If you didn’t like that, you wouldn’t do this sort of work. People either play music on a radio or CD player or Kindle at a low volume or have an earbud in one ear only.

I don’t get the need for absolute quiet in work or at home. I don’t like loud noises or talking. I REALLY don’t want to hear you chew your food. But a little noise lets me know I’m still connected with the world.