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Build Your Career Office Life

14 Reasons Workers Love (and Hate) Their Cubicles

14 Reasons Workers Love (and Hate) Their Cubicles
Employees say there are things they love and hate about working in a cubicle. / Credit: Cubicles image via Shutterstock

Many employees dream about working in the corner office, but the reality is most aren't that fortunate.

Rather than a private office, it's a cubicle that thousands and thousands of employees work in each day. Even though the popular sentiment is that workers have nothing good to say about the cubicle environment – that's far from true.

While there are plenty of things to detest about working in a small, cramped space that provides little to no privacy, employees say there are parts of their cubicle life they enjoy.

Here are seven aspects of working in a cubicle that today's employees love and seven that they hate.

Why I Love Working in a Cubicle

The brainstorming: Always having co-workers close by to bounce ideas off of is what Ramon Kahn, the business development manager for National Air Warehouse, loved about the years he worked in a cubicle.

"You always have someone to interact with," Kahn said. "If you are stuck in a rut there is always someone to help."

Have to stay organized: Michael Dunne, a public information officer for Pacific Continental Bank, has worked in a cubicle for more than a decade and said he loves that it forces him to keep his area neat and organized.

"An office is a great enabler of the chronically sloppy and disorganized," Dunne said. "Having a cubicle means you have to clean your desk and work area every evening - lest you be labeled 'pig pen.'"



Motivates you: After having worked from home and in an office where everyone worked in one big room from the same table, Elizabeth Jarrard, an account executive with the public relations and advertising firm the Dalton Agency, said working in a cubicle is a big step up from those situations. She really enjoys the balance of having her own space, yet not feeling totally isolated like she did when working from home.

"I love the sense of community you build with the others in the cubby area," she said. "It's easy to stay motivated and accountable for your work when everyone is near you doing the same."



The energy: Working in a cubicle environment helps foster teamwork, according to Julia Bucchianeri, an account executive for HB Agency, an integrated marketing and communications firm.One of the reasons she loves working in a cubicle is because it's easy to have quick, impromptu brainstorming sessions that allow you to feed off of one another's energy and ideas.

"There's something about being surrounded by my
colleagues that offers an energy like no other," she said.

Keep tabs on co-workers' moods: Andrea Jones, the director of marketing for a New York-based law firm and the founder of On Target Marketing, said one aspect of working in a cubicle that she really enjoys is being able to keep tabs on the tenor of the office.

"When things are going well between attorneys or between an attorney
and his or her secretary, I'm aware of that," Jones said. "When things are not going
smoothly, I know whom to avoid."

The opportunity to decorate: Having worked in both an open office floor plan and cubicle environment, Bridget Farrell she prefers the later. Farrell, a web designer for the Neptune Society, said besides the added privacy that a cubicle provides over an open floor office, she likes being able to decorate a space that's just hers.

Specifically, Farrell loves being able to organize and decorate her cubicle to reflect her office at home.

"This allows for an easier transition from working at home to working at the office," she said.

Easy to meet new people: Ursula Lauriston, a communications consultant and editor-in-chief of the Capital Standard, said one aspect of working in a cubicle that she really appreciates is that the environment is conducive to meeting new people. She said this is especially helpful in large offices where you might not know everyone that works for the company.

"You walk
 by a cubicle, see something interesting, and strike up a conversation," Lauriston said.
"You've now made a new connection in a new department who may be a great
contact in the future."

Editor’s Note: Considering cubicles for your business? If you’re looking for information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

Why I Hate Working in a Cubicle

The noise: Carol Gee, who recently retired from her job in higher education administration, said she worked in a cubicle after spending years working in her own private office.  She said the transition to a small, less private space was hard to get used to. 

While it was fun to decorate her tiny space with fun artwork and small rugs, she said the noise from those around her was what she hated most about it.

"It could be hard to concentrate when student came into the suite [of cubicles] to chat with professors," Gee said. "Learning to tune out the noises while writing became my salvation."

Annoying next-door neighbors: One aspect of working in a cubicle that Ramon Kahn despised was not having a say in who was stationed next to him. He said it always ends up being a roll of the dice on whether or not you will get along with the person.

"You can get 
stuck next to someone who is annoying, smelly, rude, awkward or dramatic," Kahn said, "Things can go sour pretty fast."

Everyone knows when you're gone: The Dalton Agency's Jarrard said one part of working in a cubicle that she dislikes is that it's very obvious when she isn't at her desk.

"If you go to take a lunch, a break or even just a quick walk outside to get a bit of exercise, everyone in the cubby area notices and wonders why or where you are going," Jarrard said. "Sometimes you have appointments that you don't need to share with anyone but your boss, and everyone will gossip about why you aren't at work yet, or why you are leaving early."

The smells: While Logan Stewart, community and public relations manager for the orthopedic practice OrthoCarolina, loves her job, she said she absolutely hates working in a cubicle. She works in a low-walled cubicle that offers little privacy and is right next to the office kitchen.

"I am less than five feet from the office kitchen so it's my pleasure to smell the hodgepodge of microwave aromas that drift my way throughout the day, including when people heat up leftover spaghetti at 9 a.m.," Stewart said.

Phone conversations: Talking on the phone is one of the things Andrea Jones hates most about the cubicle environment. Jones said since cubicles provide little privacy, everyone can hear her entire conversation every time she picks up the phone.

"I feel that all of my phone
interactions with co-workers and outsiders alike are being scrutinized, as
both my immediate supervisor and the office manager can hear what I'm
saying," Jones said. "Finally, on those rare occasions when I get an urgent phone call
from or about one of my children, I must take my cellphone outside the
office to guarantee my privacy."

The monotonous atmosphere: Jennifer Eiber, who spent nearly a decade working in a cubicle before leaving her corporate jobs to become a freelance writer, said it's hard to be creative in that type of setting.

"There's nothing that sucks the soul out of your life's work then repeatedly sitting in the exact same environment day after day," Eiber said. "It's a challenge to whip up ideas when staring at the same windowless, no-natural-light box every day."

Cube jealousy: Even though cubicles are basically designed to all look the same, there still ends up being some employees upset that they didn't get the cube they wanted, according to Capital Standard's Lauriston.

"We're in these pathetic glorified boxes and yet some still choose to suffer
the indignity of squabbling over which cube they get, how big it is, and
where it is located," Lauriston said.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.

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