The Demise of the Cubicle: Designing Office Space for the New Culture of Collaboration

Published Tuesday, April 13, 2010 9:54 AM


It was a year marked by political and social unrest here and abroad.

It was also the birth year of that symbol of modern workplace dysfunction chronicled in Scott Adams' wildly popular Dilbert comic strip- the office cubicle.

As highlighted in this Fortune retrospective entitled Cubicles: The Great Mistake, even the cubicle's inventor - the late Robert Propst - came to rue the economical office system he thought would increase the productivity of "a growing breed of white-collar workers, whose job titles fell between secretary and boss." With a nod to the Dilbertvilles he inspired, he openly admitted his "contribution to 'monolithic insanity.'"

In making this admission, Propst might have foreseen the current shift in workplace culture away from worker isolation and towards flexible teamwork, open communication and ongoing collaboration. Perhaps he also knew what recent studies have confirmed: A well-designed office boosts employee morale, engagement and productivity.

Let's face it, we all secretly, or not so secretly cheered during the movie Office Space when the lead character "takes it to the man" by knocking down his cubicle wall with the help of a power drill.  The look of accomplishment on his face spoke volumes, to office workers and managers alike.

Companies looking into the benefits of redesigning their physical space can start with a practical tutorial on How to Build a Better Office that walks you through these key steps:


  1. Sizing up your current space
  2. Involving your employees in the process
  3. Deciding what your goals are
  4. Asking yourself if it's time to move
  5. Continuing to tweak


For more inspiration, you can virtually tour office spaces designed to optimize collaboration, including Microsoft's cool research facility, Building 99. Among the featured redesign elements are:


  • More shared and social spaces for spontaneous collaboration
  • Smaller cubicles with lower walls
  • Fewer private offices
  • Plush kitchen areas
  • Offices with sliding textured glass doors
  • Write-on/wipe-off walls


You might also gain some insight from this Fast Company slideshow of 10 Workspaces That Inspire Creativity and this image gallery of the Best and Worst Workplace Design.

by Carly Fadako

| More


# Psypened said on Tuesday, February 07, 2012 3:44 AM

get cheap <a>new coach purse</a>   to get new coupon   for gift

# murryrat said on Monday, April 09, 2012 8:50 PM

sell <a>  at my estore

# oem software online said on Friday, April 27, 2012 5:00 PM

nkXIht Enjoyed every bit of your article.Much thanks again. Really Great.

# buy oem software said on Tuesday, May 01, 2012 11:30 AM

890wNR I appreciate you sharing this blog article. Much obliged.

# HildTade said on Sunday, June 10, 2012 5:52 PM

<a>evening dresses prom</a>  to take huge discount


# Ketchum said on Wednesday, August 01, 2012 1:42 PM

Hi would you mind letting me know which web host you're working with? I've loaded your blog in 3 different internet browsers and

I must say this blog loads a lot faster

then most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a fair price?

Cheers, I appreciate it! Check out my website to get more

info about forex, if you like.

# LofMagom said on Monday, August 13, 2012 3:36 PM

<a href=">  to your friends  

# Rowley said on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11:49 AM

It's a pity you don't have a donate button! I'd certainly donate to this fantastic blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for book-marking and adding your

RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will share this site

with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

# Manfred Perri said on Saturday, September 01, 2012 7:42 AM

very nice post Thank you!

About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

Join the Beyond Folders™ Community of readers passionate about time management, productivity, communication and workspace organization.

Read BFC News

Quick Subscribe to BFC News

Follow Beyond Folders™