How Office Cubicles Came to Be


This article at The Economist on the evolution of the office cubicle is fascinating if depressing. It details how the original concept for modular office space was perverted almost immediately—the original intention was to position walls at 120º in order to avoid the monotony so familiar to cubicle dwellers today, but cost efficiency led to 90º angles instead. It was all downhill from there, apparently.

On top of all this, cubicle workers who feel that the walls are closing in on them are onto something. When cubicle spaces are renovated, says a design firm, they often shrink from eight feet by ten per person, to five foot by five. In 1994 the average North American office worker had 90 square feet of space. By 2010 this was 75 square feet. (Executive management gained floor space over the same period, according to the International Facility Management Association.)