Office Design Insider: Are Cubicles Good or Bad?

Share This...

are cubicles good or badOf all elements, aspects, and features of the office-design world, perhaps no single discussion point triggers as intense a reaction than when the topic turns to cubicles. Indeed, people seem to be divided into two distinct camps: those who like cubicles and see their advantages, and those who dislike (if not hate!) cubicles, and view them as a plague on workplace landscape. 

At Key Interiors, an important part of our role and contribution is helping our clients objectively analyze the pros an cons of various office design options, so they can ultimately make informed decisions that fit their current needs and support their future goals. With this in mind, here is a look at some of the fundamental advantages and disadvantages of cubicles:

Cubicle Design Advantages

  • Increased Privacy

Cubicles provide employees with an enhanced sense of privacy, which can be limited or absent in an open office environment.  

  • Greater Personalization

Gallup surveys reveal that the average full time employee spends 47 hours a week at work, and many routinely exceed 50 and 60 hours; especially if they are in supervisory or management roles. Cubicles enable employees to (within reason of course!) personalize their space, so that their “home away from home” is a more agreeable, convenient, functional and comfortable environment.

  • More Focus

The quest to “find flow” in today’s fast-paced business environment is tougher than ever – especially since employees are constantly being interrupted by emails, updates, IMs –– the list goes on. Cubicles can help employees block out some (though not all) external distractions, which can enable them to more easily and effectively concentrate.

  • More Democratic

Employees can become resentful when some people are given larger offices than others. The fact that in many cases a CEO has no choice (i.e. walled offices cannot be resized) is beside the point. Sometimes resentment is not rational! However, with cubicles, this is no longer an issue, since office sizes can be standardized and uniform across the environment.

Cubicle Design Disadvantages

  • More Noise Pollution

Ironically, the greater sense of privacy and autonomy afforded by cubicles (as noted above in the section on advantages) can convince some employees that they are working on an island. As such, they may be oblivious to how loudly they are talking, how annoying the “ping” of their desktop and smartphone is, and so on. Indeed, the number one complaint that employees have with cubicles is not the size of their workspace: it is the amount of noise in the environment.

  • Less Interaction

Much like traditional walled offices, cubicles tend to impede rather than enhance employee interaction; especially if it is with cross-functional colleagues with whom they rarely (if ever) interact with.

  • Cramped Workspaces

It’s not uncommon to find cubicle-laden workplaces that pack employees in like proverbial sardines. For example, storage boxes take up precious square feet, laptops and tablets allow for very little desk space, and so on.

The Bottom Line

Should cubicles be part of your office design? As expected, the answer to that is “it depends.” It can indeed make sense to use cubicles in some areas, while having an open office layout in other areas. Or it may not be a good idea at all; especially since cubicles are potentially expensive assets, and for larger organizations can run well into the 6-figures.

The best, smartest, and safest way forward is to contact the interior solutions specialists at Key Interiors for a comprehensive assessment of your needs, goals, and options. We can even develop highly detailed 3D graphical renderings of your environment with and without cubicles, so that you can clearly envision what your office design could look like before you make investments – not after, when you may be having second thoughts.

To learn more, contact us today. Your consultation with us is free. For more information on different office design options such as the open and collabortive approach, download our FREE eBook:


Newsletter Sign Up

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Corporate Showroom      1072 N. Garfield St.
Lombard, IL 60148

Ohio Showroom                      81 Mill Street
Gahanna, OH 43230


Illinois: 877.288.9919

Ohio: 866.755.9230