If you have worked in an office, then there’s no doubt you are aware of the cubicle. It’s a word that is synonymous with the office workplace. Some businesses use them, others do not. However, all must acknowledge the cubicle design’s impact on the office environment.
What does it even mean?
The word cubicle derives (like many words) from Latin. ‘Cubiculum’ means ‘bed chamber’ and was originally used to mean any small chamber or area with a partition that does not go to the ceiling.
Before cubicles, open offices were pretty much the norm.
It wasn’t until 1960 that a serious study into office layout began. A man named Herman Miller created a corporation that aimed to redefine office space. After evaluating the modern layout and how people worked and reacted within the space, Miller began a plan of changing layout, equipment and furniture.
It was named ‘Action Office’ and was a huge success in smaller offices, though not so much in larger businesses.
Action Office II
The corporation learned from their experiences with Action Office and created a new way of working. This involved surround a desk with low walls and sectioning employees off individually.
They found people worked more productively when they had their own environment they could personalise.
Thus, interchangeable compartments began to appear in offices around the US, first appearing in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The cubicle was born.
Since the 60s, this design has made at least £3 billion pounds and can be found almost everywhere in the world today. Although some argue that the effect is a little dehumanising due to limited person-to-person contact, the cubicle’s impact on business cannot be underestimated.
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