Cubicles: The Killer of Creativity

I once worked in a beautiful space. We each had our own corner with our desks facing each other in a circle. And one wall was a full window, letting in the sun’s positive rays into our creativity and productivity.

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That all changed.

Without notice, our workspace was dungeoned into a labyrinth of cubicles, walling us off into prisons of shadows and social alienation.

No, I’m not being dramatic.

The decision, crafted in the royal room of the castle, didn’t take into consideration what happens in this precious workspace. But who has the gold (or shiny title) makes the rules, so the order to build Cubicle City commenced, while the supervisor guards leading the way chant, “this isn’t my fault. I don’t have a say.”

Not holding a grudge at all.

No courtesy email explaining the change was sent. No meeting explaining why the change was held. In fact, the only way I had access to the truth was by hearing it through the grapevine.

And it all came down to fairness.

It wasn’t fair that all workspaces weren’t the same. So all open desks were pushed aside and replaced with matching green walls in every non-executive workspace.

But with uniformity comes loss of creativity.

My team is in charge of the creativity of the organization. We serve the organization as knights, shaping our strategy and brainstorming our ideas within our circle of trust before riding off into the digital realm to carry out the message to the people.

But how can we create with these shielding walls?

Now I forget that I even have co-workers. We don’t say hello. We don’t say goodbye. And now we email our questions because we think we’re alone in the office.

And alone in my box, I have even lost my inspiration. Now I can only complete my mundane tasks at my desk. As for my creative work, I must step away from my desk to a space with a shred of light or complete the work at home.

And that’s not right. I’m not being creative where I’m supposed to be. That’s because the space doesn’t support the intended solution.

In previous blog posts, such as here and here and here, I explain why a workspace with light and space and openness for collaboration heightens creativity and productiveness. Different jobs require different workspaces.

And that’s why uniformity isn’t the answer.

If the plan to install cubicles was presented to our team prior to its installation, we could’ve argued the case against it with research and examples of how effective our previous workspace was with supporting stats and charts.

But the money has been spent. And there is no going back.

The one that really gets hurt is the company. Less creativity and less productivity hurts company revenue, reputation and employee morale.

And in the end, that’s really what the cubicle is designed to kill.

What are your thoughts on the cubicle? Does it kill creativity? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Corporations only want their employees to be human when it suits them.

    I don’t mind the “cubicles” in my office because they are spacious and positioned in a way that I can turn around and talk to the person to my right and diagonally behind me. We also need the half walls to block noise from other departments. But, in general terms, the idea that people in corner offices with big windows determine what’s best and “fair” for the rest of us is problematic. These are often the same gray-haired men who decide that people with gray hair don’t know what they are doing and aren’t worth hiring.

  2. Looks awful, but more like a symptom than the disease. I mean, cubes seem to spring from the essence of large businesses. Your pic also looks alarmingly similar to the cover of my forthcoming novel. The main character, too, hates his cube, and finds a way out. It you’re interested, you can read the first chapter here: Cheers, John Hussey

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