Will Cubicles Make Employees More Honest?

There’s been a trend in offices to get rid of cubicles and instead have an open-floor plan so that employees can easily communicate with each other and not be separated. Some companies do it just to save money. While there are various reasons for not having cubicles, here’s a reason for not getting rid of them: honesty.

Jena McGregor reports in the Washington Post that a research study revealed that people who sit at large desks in larger spaces tend to cheat more. She also mentions “power posing” which is most possible when employees have a larger space because they can lean back and put their feet on their desk. If someone is able to sit in such a way to perceive him- or herself as having power, then that can lead to dishonest behavior. It’s not so easy to do that in a cubicle because the small space confines a worker’s ability to be more expansive, which changes his or her self-perception.

This positive spin on cubicles runs counter to the advice of consultants and commentators who have been advocating open offices for at least a decade. Even McGregor doesn’t totally think that cubicles are so great because in a more recent article, she wrote “A case against the office cubicle,” saying it can make people more isolated.

There have been many studies about workspaces, worker productivity and satisfaction, and company culture, and it seems like nothing is consistently conclusive. So should companies have cubicles or not? The most important thing is for a company to do what’s best for them. Analyze the situation, see what works best for employees, and do it, no matter what the trend may be. You may even discover that standing all day at a desk is the best option, which would make the cubicle argument seem irrelevant.

How is your office set up? Let me know in the comments below.

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