The drawbacks of cubicles

Open-plan offices make employees less productive, less happy, and more likely to get sick

Earlier this week I published a post asking “Are your employees misaligned?” where I cited a story about our acquiring company plucking software developers from their private offices and stuffing them into 6’x6′ cubes. This article from cites lots of studies that document the negative consequences of open-plan offices.

I’ve long been a proponent of giving every employee his or her own office. A private office provides the worker with a greater sense of status and autonomy than a cubicle, leading to better productivity. I can say from experience that private offices also provided a recruiting advantage over companies with cubicles. Plus, what employee is excited to show their family the cubicle where they work?


  1. Joel, I couldn’t agree more. The worst environment I ever had to work in was at my first start-up. I inherited a team of about a dozen engineers that were working in an open bullpen kind of arrangement. No offices, no cubes, no dividers. Just desks in a large open room. you can imagine the distractions that would erupt. As quickly as possible I got management to approve the purchase of some used cubical walls. It wasn’t ideal, but it was definitely an improvement. Since then, I have always lobbied for offices for all of the employees, right down to the network technicians and technical writers.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Chris! We are of like mind!

  3. Cubicles are one of the signs that your company is stuck in the customer service dark ages. After all, if you treat the team worse than veal, how do you expect them to treat your customers? More signs here…


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