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Eventually companies realized that not only did cubicles provide their workers with an area of their own, they also saved office space by allowing the company to house more employees than they could if they all had private offices.
While some companies today are transitioning back to a more open-work environment, the cubicle still remains a popular option.
When buying cubicles, businesses have two main options. There are monolithic cubicles, where the walls are solid from top to bottom, and segmented or tile frame cubicles, where the walls are comprised of different tiles.
While those are the two main style options, businesses have a wide range of choice in sizes and features that they want in their cubicles, such as storage space or electrical hookups. Additionally, there is the choice of buying new, used, refurbished or remanufactured cubicles.
"There are as many different types of cubicles as there are businesses," said Michelle Swanger, owner of Cube Solutions."There are many manufacturers and each has different lines of cubicles that offer certain styles and finishes."
Since there is such a wide variety of cubicle sizes and features, Kirsch often compares buying cubicles to buying cars.
Cubicle size and features
When it comes to size,cubicles can be configured in a wide variety. They range from cubicles that are just 3 feet wide by 3 feet long, to cubicles that can be as wide as 12 feet long and 12 feet wide.
"Cubicles are actually made up of many different components – panels, work surfaces, filing and storage, connectors, etc., that can be put together in ways that work for your office," Swanger said. "The same components that make up a small 4' by 2' workstation can be put together to make a large 8' by 8' workstation."
Tom Loughney, owner of Cubicle Depot, said it is important to note that the tile frame walls are slightly larger than the monolithic ones, so that needs to be factored in when planning out an office.
"The frame tiles are thicker," he said. "So in essence the frame and tile [look] is going to take up more space."
Determining which size cubicle is needed really depends on what the employees working in them are doing, according to Loughney.
"What does each person do," he asked. "Are they paper-heavy or more techy and mostly on a computer?"
Answering these types of questions will help a business determine which size cubicle is right for their space. Swanger said generally speaking, telemarketing employees typically need a smaller footprint, a 3 foot by 3 foot or 4 foot by 2 foot, with no more than one file cabinet. Administrative employees, on the other hand, will typically need more space.
Besides the size, shape and features of a cubicle, businesses also have the option of buying new, used, refurbished or remanufactured cubicles. Each comes with its own pros and cons.
The upside to buying new cubicles is that they will be built exactly to a business's specifications, which include the sizes, fabric and work surface colors, Kirsch said.
"If you buy new, whatever you want you can get," Kirsch said.
However, new cubicles are significantly more expensive than the other options.
"New cubicles are three times the price of refurbished," Loughney said.
Used and refurbished cubicles are the cheapest options. Used cubicles are those that have already been used by another business and are sold to a new company as is Refurbished cubicles have also been used by another company, but have been cleaned up before being resold.
cle with one or two filing cabinets, and maybe a shelf.
When buying cubicles, businesses have a wide range of sellers to choose from. When deciding on a cubicle provider, there are a number of factors businesses should take into consideration.