Office cubicle partitions create and control space. If you think of a cubicle defined by partitions as though it were a room defined by walls, it’s easy to visualize just how the relationship between the size of the workstation—the width and length of its floor space—to the height of its partitions can drastically affect the character of the space within. Like the walls of a room, office cubicle partitions control access to interior space. The different ratios of cubicle size to partition height can have very different effects on the user, in terms of productivity and even mood. Think of a room that’s only ten feet wide and ten feet long. If it has walls that are 20 feet high, space might feel as confining as a dungeon or a prison. Now think of a room that’s six feet wide by six feet long. Even though it’s much smaller than the first space, if it had walls that were three feet high, it would actually feel more open.
Office cubicle partitions are quite similar in their roles in shaping space. Despite how many offices have adopted an open-plan layout that does away with partitions of any kind, the fact of the matter is that this kind of work environment doesn’t lead to productivity any more so than offices with separate individual workstations. Partitions help each office worker better concentrate on his or her daily duties. Depending on the nature of their work, different professionals need different blends of privacy and accessibility in order to be productive.
Low office cubicle partitions–those that are about 42” high– are closest in feel to the open-plan office while still maintaining a personal sense of space. The associated benefits and disadvantages to occupying a cubicle will low partitions are also similar. Low partitions let employees see each other as well as interact easily even when seated. They allow for much collaboration and the free flowing of creative ideas. However, as floor space increases, the feeling of vulnerability may also increase, especially if low office cubicle partitions are maintained. In a scenario like this, an employee’s immediate environment can be characterized by a lack of privacy in speech, which can be intimidating to many. This is because a focus on personal work tasks is still important in even the most collaborative work circumstances. On the other hand, low office cubicle partitions have been linked to the enforcement of accountability, especially if the employee is more visible and accessible by management and therefore more easily monitored. Employees that are acclimated to open-plan offices, or those who are in more creative and collaborative fields like design and advertising, may feel the most comfortable in large low-walled cubicles.
At the opposite extreme is the use of high office cubicle partitions, which are approximately 65” and greater. They offer the most acoustical and visual privacy, and as such are good for professionals who might need a high level of concentration to do their solo work. Telemarketers and customer service representatives are on phone calls throughout their workdays and they and their customers would benefit from clear speech unhindered by distracting environmental noise. Counselors may also be good candidates, as they specialize in fostering clear communication with their clients about sensitive personal information best kept to a minimum number of people. Office administrators may also benefit from high partitions, as well as accountants and employees who work at law firms. Despite offering the greatest amount of privacy in the workplace, the disadvantage to high office cubicle partitions is most definitely their ability to make employees feel isolated and disconnected from their peers and managers. This feeling will only worsen as one’s cubicle size decreases, heightening the sense of confinement, and subsequently having a negative effect on employee happiness and productivity.
Jerry Mogyorody, Cubicle World founder and President, is an experienced authority on space planning and management. His design team has been trained to look for ways to manage space in three dimensions-not just the length and width of the floor. Cubicle partition heights are a key element in establishing atmosphere, focus, and decor throughout the office. Scaling partitions to generate the right balance of privacy and accessibility is a specialty wherein we excel. Building workstations that not only support production, but enhance ergonomics as well, is our passion. Call Jerry now, and get started with an FREE office layout design CAD drawing today.
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