The Pros and Cons of Cubicles Vs. Open Work Spaces

The fight between cubicles and open workspaces dates back to 1964. Originally designed to create a private area customizable to the employee, the cubicle populates office setup for workers in many industries.

Eventually, employers and employees began to formulate more innovative approaches to developing a workplace — enter the open-design concept.

Spaces with a more sprawling design are inherently geared toward open communication and group collaboration. This idea has recently become more common due to the demonization of cubicles in popular culture. Various comic strips like “Dilbert” have been known to possess this stigma.


So, which of these options is best? Truthfully, there is no right or wrong answer. Both are strong, strategic choices. Cubicle and open-space designs have different strengths and weaknesses, depending on your workers and the role of their teams. Knowing the pros and cons of each layout can help you apply them to your office and maximize employee engagement.

The Cubicle


Cubicles provide a high level of privacy and a sense of ownership to an office. Employees have different storage areas where they are able to securely store documents and other essential items. Cubicles standardize stations, since everyone works in a similar space. A well-organized cubicle layout optimizes the overall design in an office, getting the most people into one space. High levels of organization — and removing most distractions — makes the cubicle a perfect choice when someone needs intense focus.


On the opposite side, cubicles generally cost more than an open plan. Purchasing smaller, more cost-effective layouts could potentially lead to uncomfortable workers operating with limited movement capability. Also, natural lighting could be blocked in a cubicle-style office. Unless your desk is near a window, chances are you won’t easily catch a glimpse of the outside world. Cubicles make it more difficult to easily interact with other members of a team. Removing distractions consequently removes convenient human interaction.

Open-Space Design


One of the most prominent strengths of an open office is the lack of physical barriers. This enhances quick interaction between coworkers sharing project-related information. This type of open communication helps employees understand what is happening in other areas of the business. Open spaces are also more budget-friendly, as you do not need to invest in cubicle walls or dividers. Rather, a table or desk would suffice.


Open spaces are prone to draining introverts in a work environment. For some, constant communication is welcome. For others, there is a need for quiet moments of internal reflection. These distractions could limit the amount of productivity among workers. Aside from this, open environments quickly spread illnesses, such as the common cold, among employees.

No office layout is “right” or “wrong.” Assess your company’s needs to find the solution that works best for your office. Knowing your workers — and what kind of space they need — is a great way to help plan your interior design. An IT team may be more interested in a space in which they can focus on code for long periods of time, whereas a marketing team may have more need to brainstorm in a more collaborative environment.

Whatever your office needs may be, Commercial Office Environments is here to help. We combine our creative ideas, proactive approaches and unparalleled expertise to provide customized design solutions for company offices in a wide range of industries. Located in Indianapolis, we want to make your space as amazing as possible. If you’re ready to transform your office from unworkable to unbelievable, visit our website or call us at (317) 876-9200.