From the comic strip Dilbert to the movie Office space, cubicles have been a cultural punch line for years. Yet they have shown more evolutionary power than they are given credit for, and have adapted and responded to the trends and needs of generations of office workers.
You can’t turn a corner in this industry without bumping into someone who thinks they invented the cubicle, but in reality, it’s the changing style of work that invented it and continues to push it’s evolution.
A person's workstation used to be their primary destination, where they spent most of their day. Today, it’s just one stop in a day’s worth of destinations – conference rooms, touchdown spots, phone booths, and even the coffee counter.
As work behaviors continue to evolve, the purpose of being in the office has also transformed. It now primarily serves two functions: collaboration and focused individual work. The personal workstation has become a singular tool – a place to achieve a task, meet a deadline, or finalize an individual project. This shift away from the personal workstation being an all-encompassing workspace provides us with an opportunity to reconsider the role of smaller meeting spaces, conference calls, and dedicated focus areas. As design follows function, smaller spaces that emphasize solitude and privacy have become the “modern workstation.”
We took a look at some of the trends and changes through the years: