What is an Office Cubicle?

B. Miller

An office cubicle is a small workspace designed to separate an individual from his or her coworkers in a larger office environment. It typically features a desk area, two or three partial walls that do not reach to the ceiling, and sometimes shelving or racks installed on the walls for storage purposes. An office cubicle is designed to offer more privacy to office workers, ideally minimizing distractions from coworkers to increase productivity.

Office cubicles.
Office cubicles.

An office cubicle is usually found in a grouping of office cubicles; they are designed as an alternative for people who do not have individual offices. The cubicle is a staple of many corporate environments where a significant number of people may work in one large room. Each person will have his or her own cubicle which usually contains a computer, desk chair, filing cabinet, and any other necessary items for everyday work. Many people choose to decorate their cubicles with personal items such as calendars, photographs, bulletin boards, or other decorative items. The walls of the cubicle are typically fabric-covered and are designed to make it easier to hang items on the walls.

Cubicles in an office building.
Cubicles in an office building.

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Sometimes, the wall for the cubicle will only reach to about eye-level, but in most cases the height of the cubicles will be higher than that to offer more privacy to the people who are working in them. Usually the walls of the office cubicle are low enough to allow workers to simply stand up and talk over the walls. Some cubicles will be designed with acoustic panels separating the different workstations, which can also help to minimize noise and the sounds of other coworkers from neighboring desks.

Each office cubicle is designed to be uniform and look exactly like the rest of the office cubicles. Many cubicles, however, are modular and may often be easily customized or configured differently, depending on the design of the office and the needs of the staff. For example, a cubicle may be made larger to feature two desk spaces, for two people who work together, or if one person just needs extra space. Shelving may often be suspended from the walls to hold items like books or binders. Cubicles are often viewed in a humorous or negative way as the symbol of the American corporate world, but of course they are used in other areas throughout the world for their convenience factor in the working environment, as well as the fact that they are purchased in bulk, fairly inexpensive, and easy to rearrange as needed.

Cubicles are small workspaces that separate employees in larger office environment.
Cubicles are small workspaces that separate employees in larger office environment.

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