Is the Super Cubicle a Super Idea?

cubicle panel extensions

Have you heard of the concept of the super-cubicle? The term describes the size of the cubicle pretty accurately. But it’s not like the Seinfeld “Pothole” episode where Kramer paints over the dividing lines on the highway to create super wide lanes for a more luxurious driving experience. Instead of being a great big cubicle for one employee, it’s a group cubicle that encloses several workers (3 or more) in a single workspace. There are walls surrounding these workstations, but no dividers between the employees inside the super-cubicle. The idea is to create a tightknit team within these close quarters and, of course, promote the ever popular but somehow evasive “collaboration” that everyone’s excited about these days. The manager actually inhabits the super-cubicle with his or her direct reports to offer guidance (and keep everyone from slacking off).

No One Seems Thrilled with This Idea

As you can imagine, this concept is not terribly popular with the average office worker who is often no big fan of the traditional cubicle to start with. Rob Enderle points out one obvious flaw: if collaboration is going strong in the super-cubicle, it’s likely to get loud. It makes more sense to move that kind of brainstorming meeting to a conference room. After all, that’s what meeting rooms (with their closable doors) are designed for.

Ken Hardin, who came up through the ranks working and thriving in a very noisy, completely open newsroom environment holds a kinder view of the super-cubicles at his workplace. But he admits that he’s biased. So, he conducted an informal survey of how his colleagues feel about the setup. These were a few of the things they said they would prefer:

  • More privacy (both visual and auditory)
  • More choices for styles and colors in at least some aspect of individual workstations
  • More flexibility in how the workstation is set up

With our panel extenders or our new desktop-mounted privacy panels, it’s possible to transform a super-cubicle to meet all these criteria. The desk mounted panels can be installed front to back to separate individual coworkers within the super cube – even if they share the same uninterrupted worksurface. Our polycarbonate panels come in a variety of bright colors, so workers could pick what they like best. The acoustic fabric covered panels can also provide a buffer against too much noise within the shared cubicle environment.