Employees chatting at desk in office
Facility management

Cubicles vs. open office: why choose only one option?


April 15, 2024


April 15, 2024

In 2024, working hybrid (between office and home) has become the norm for 39% of workers1. It begs the question: What’s the best office layout today for this new way of working? The ‘cubicles vs. open office’ debate has grown more relevant than ever. Cubicles, known for their privacy, enhance focus. An open setup, on the other hand, inspires creativity and promotes collaboration. Still, it’s not an easy choice. Determining the optimal workplace arrangement is influenced by the nature of work, individual personality traits, and even different times within the workday. 

In this article, we analyze the effects of enclosed workspaces and open space configurations. We’ll dig into the strengths and weaknesses of each, looking for ways to build productivity, employee satisfaction, and a sense of community in a changing environment. Are you ready to find out which setup resonates most with your team’s rhythms and goals?

What’s the difference between a workspace with cubicles and an open office?

In a cubicle workspace, each employee has a personal space surrounded by partitions, offering privacy and minimizing distractions from external noises. This setup is like a mini-office for solo work where it is easier to concentrate on individual tasks. Cubicles often contain desks, shelves, and storage areas for private use. 

An open office layout removes these partitions, creating a shared working environment without physical barriers between workers. Team members can easily communicate and collaborate. But this openness also introduces more background noise and visual distractions, which can disturb their concentration.

Choosing between cubicles vs. open offices depends on the kind of work your team members do. Cubicles are an excellent option for tasks that require intense focus, while workspaces with open plans are perfectly suited for projects that demand quick, continuous communication between coworkers.

🎬 Wondering what deskbird is about? Discover the features of the deskbird app in less than two minutes in this video!

People working in cubicles
People working in cubicles

What are the pros and cons of cubicles?

The pros of cubicles

Privacy for each employee

Cubicles offer excellent confidentiality, making private calls or focusing on work without worrying about being easily overheard. Having a sense of privacy can boost productivity because it reduces external stress.


Employees can decorate their cubicles with photos, plants, and personal items to make the place feel less sterile and more inviting. But this is more than just aesthetics; it’s about improving wellness and job satisfaction so people love coming to work.

Noise reduction

In an office, cubicles act as physical barriers, muting printer noise, loud conversations, and foot traffic. By reducing background sounds, workers can focus on tasks that require concentration and maintain a calm and focused environment.

Defined personal space

Boundaries help employees reduce distractions. Without constant disruptions, people can prioritize their work, resulting in fewer interruptions and more organized task management.

The cons of cubicles

Isolation from the team

While cubicles provide privacy, physical barriers also hinder spontaneous communication and quick collaboration, which are crucial to teamwork, problem-solving, and so on. It can affect cooperation among coworkers and require more effort to boost team spirit.

Limited space

Cubicles are compact, so they don’t offer as much room for movement and storage as a larger office. Confinement may cause employees to feel boxed in. Moreover, in a hybrid work setup, people tend to come on-site to interact socially and work on group projects. This means they might not want to sit in a cubicle by themselves.

Aesthetically unpleasing

Having cubicles laid out uniformly can result in a monotonous visual landscape. It might make the office look impersonal and uninspiring to both employees and guests since this uniformity doesn’t reflect the dynamic nature of the work being done.

Lack of adaptability

Cubicles make it difficult to adjust to changing team sizes. Adding new employees might result in inefficiencies and workspaces that don’t meet business needs. Plus, we know the impact that office layout can have on productivity.

📆 Start a free trial of the deskbird app to give your employees more flexibility with workspace booking and week planning while saving costs!

Cubicle office setup
Cubicle office setup

What are the advantages and downsides of an open office?

The benefits of working in an open office

Fosters collaboration

Open offices make it easy for your employees to collaborate and share ideas. It leads to innovative solutions and stronger teamwork, enhancing productivity and creativity on the days they come on-site. By streamlining communication, quick exchanges and collective efforts can take place, which is necessary for agile project development.

Flexible work environment

This layout supports dynamic space use by providing shared desks and communal areas. Hybrid teams pick their workstations based on their needs, promoting a flexible and adaptable workplace. Having autonomy and variety meet the requirements of a hybrid workforce, resulting in greater employee experience and productivity.

Promotes a unified company culture

Open office layouts foster equality and openness by removing physical barriers. Everyone, regardless of their position, can interact, help each other and share their knowledge. This also enables you to break down hierarchical structures and makes work more fun and engaging.


Designing an open space can help you reduce office costs, such as rent, electricity, furniture, etc. With this setup, you can fit more employees in less square footage, which is great if you want to decrease expenses.

👋 Do you want to optimize space and cut costs with a flexible office? Learn how you can save up to 30% with these cost-cutting ideas!

Open plan office space
Open plan office space

The downsides of an open office layout

Noise and distractions

Distractions and noise are the main drawbacks of open offices. Without walls to block sound, phone calls and conversations may distract your employees from their work. The constant background sounds may lead to lower productivity and increased stress among your team.

Lack of privacy

Because of the open layout, workers don’t have much privacy, which makes concentration or discretion more challenging. Some people might feel exposed or uncomfortable being this visible in the workspace, which could impact their performance.

Spread of illnesses

Germs are more likely to spread in open offices, raising concerns about health and well-being. Having one ill employee can inadvertently affect many others, leading to higher absenteeism rates. Sanitation protocols are even more vital to keep your workforce healthy.

One size does not fit all

There’s no doubt that open offices are conducive to collaboration, but they’re not for everybody. They may overwhelm introverted or neurodivergent workers who need quiet to focus. The solution? Balancing different types of spaces to suit everyone’s needs.

💜Discover agile office design’s benefits and best practices!

How to provide the best office layout to make your hybrid team thrive?

Get to know your employees’ expectations regarding the office space

To design the best office layout for your hybrid team, start by asking your employees what they envision. You can’t expect everyone to want the same things from their workplace. Your team’s needs will vary based on their roles, jobs, and personalities. Someone in a creative position may thrive in an open space that encourages collaboration, while a developer might prefer a quiet area to code without interruptions. 

Focus groups, surveys, or one-on-ones can reveal what your staff needs to be productive. This way, individuals can express their preferences, share their insights, and contribute to the decision-making process. By understanding your team’s diverse work styles, you can design a flexible and inclusive office space that makes people feel valued and helps them thrive. 

Be aware of the evolving changes happening in the world of work

Pay attention to how work life changes because it can deeply impact the office space and your employees’ needs. Studies are now showing us just how big a deal the design of an office is for productivity. As it turns out, it can really make or break the atmosphere at work. 

Again, talk to your team before rearranging desks, knocking down walls, or even moving the coffee machine because they know what they need. Maybe they want a quieter area or a bigger, better meeting place. If your office layout reflects what your staff wants, you’ll set everyone up for success.

Focus on creating a flexible, diverse, and agile office design

Let’s face it: not everyone works the same way, right? The best thing you can do for your team (and your business) is to set up an office that provides a bit of everything. Some people enjoy having their own cubicle fort where they focus and get work done without distractions. Others, however, prefer airy, open spaces where ideas flow freely and bounce around. That’s why mixing and matching your workplace layout could make a big difference.

The deal is: let your employees pick their ideal work setup. If someone needs the coziness of a cubicle today, then they can book it. Next time, if they’re feeling more social, they’ll switch to an open, collaborative spot. Your office won’t just be a place people have to go; it’ll be where they want to be because it flexes with them. Make your workspace as dynamic and versatile as your team so everyone is working at their peak.

Make data-based decisions and adjust your workspace layout efficiently and smartly

Workplace analytics help you make informed workspace decisions. By looking at how different areas are used, you can identify what’s working and what isn’t. For example, if data shows a conference room is rarely occupied for this purpose, you might convert it into a small open space that meets your team’s needs. Similarly, if there’s a high demand for quiet zones, it may be time to expand those spots. 

This approach allows you to design the best office layout based on actual use. So your space can change over time and meet your present requirements. Put facts to work and create a workspace that supports your team’s productivity and well-being. No more guessing!

👉 Discover the deskbird app’s office analytics feature!

Open office setup
Open office setup

Test your new office layout choices

At this point, you’ve collected tons of information – employee opinions, how everyone uses the space, what’s trending in office design, etc. This gives you a solid foundation for making smart changes to your workspace. Even with all of this data, you probably won’t get the perfect setup right away, and that’s OK. 

But how can you improve it? By testing. Try out a new layout and see how it goes. Watch and listen to your team and notice how it affects their work. When something isn’t effective, adjust it. Using trial and error doesn’t mean stumbling in the dark. Think of it as a deliberate strategy to enhance your workforce’s productivity through office design.

Use technology to improve the office space experience

Proximity plays a crucial role in employee interactions. Even though open spaces and online communication tools are supposed to boost collaboration, they can actually make it harder to interact meaningfully. It’s all about how people engage, which can be influenced by office layout and technology

Desk booking apps, for instance, are changing everything. They make it simple for your staff to book a workspace based on where their coworkers are. deskbird provides your team with an interactive floor plan and a weekly planner. In this way, they can schedule their weeks and choose desks close to their colleagues. This is a game-changer for hybrid teams looking to boost interactions and foster teamwork.

Your workspace setup, whether cubicles or an open office, affects your team’s on-site experience and productivity. We’ve covered the pros and cons of each arrangement, from cubicles’ focus and privacy to open offices’ collaboration and flexibility. Remember, you don’t have to choose just one. The best office layout is diverse, agile, and flexible. Also, incorporating technology like desk booking solutions can make your office ecosystem even better by giving employees the resources they need and the environment they want. All you have to do is design an office space that meets today’s needs, and that is flexible for tomorrow. With these insights, it’s time to move beyond the “cubicles vs. open office” debate and build the ideal office layout for your team. Once it’s all set, deskbird supports you in managing your thriving hybrid workplace efficiently! Request a free demo to discover our user-friendly desk booking app and its key features. 

1 Forecast Analysis: Knowledge Employees, Hybrid, Fully Remote and On-Site Work Styles, Worldwide, Gartner

Cubicles vs. open office: why choose only one option?

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

Read more