Compare the Top Rated Cubicle Brands: 2021 Best & Most Popular Modular Office Furniture Dealers
Cubicles go by many names, perhaps because terms like modular office furniture don't have the negative baggage that cubicle has. Although complaints about working in cubicles are common – nearly everyone has heard the term cube farm – the reality is that they help create a more productive office. In addition, cubicles offer workers a modicum of privacy even when space constraints forbid private offices for all. What's more, today's modular office furniture dealers offer an enormous variety of cubicle styles, layouts, and materials to fit any office floorplan or decor.
Types of Modular Office Furniture
Cubicles are only one type of modular office furniture. Different types of office systems are designed for certain tasks or industries. The right choice is whatever works best for your workplace.
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- Cubicles, of course, are paneled work systems. You can configure the panels to create workstations of varying sizes, depending on your office's footprint. Your dealer should offer assistance in designing the ideal layout.
- Panel systems create the individual cubicles. Basically, these are the walls of your workstations. Material options are many and include cloth, wood, glass, and metal (as well as combinations of those materials). Heights and widths also vary.
- Dividers and partitions create discrete areas that help differentiate between common spaces on the work floor. They're often used to create a break area or meeting space, or to create a quiet workstation in an open office environment.
- Benching systems are shared by two or more employees and don't include benches at all. Instead, the term describes the desk, which is essentially a long table that may include short panels that delineate each workstation and offer a small amount of privacy. Benching systems are common in open and shared workspace environments.
- Team desking is essentially the same thing as a benching system. The idea behind both types of workstations is to enhance collaboration.
- Call center desking resembles bench desking but typically includes taller panels separating the workstations. This helps reduce noise levels so employees can speak with – and hear – callers more easily.
Modular Office Furniture Features and Design
When designing your modular office furniture, it helps to understand the terminology. Each cubicle or workstation is comprised of a variety of parts, some of which are optional but go a long way toward increasing productivity.
While working with your designer, you'll need to make choices on each of these items:
- Fabric type and color: Panels are available in an enormous array of colors. For some offices, spending extra here may feel unnecessary. For others, though, the investment is an important one to create the desired aesthetic. If you have a steady stream of clients coming through or work in an industry where appearances matter, you probably want to move beyond industrial gray. Some companies also employ color psychology to inspire and motivate their workers.
- Power and data hookups: If your employees work in cubicles, they almost definitely need a computer and a phone, which means their workstations need power and data connectivity. Common options are base feed and top feed, but you can also add modular utility poles that conceal wiring. Some brands also offer wire managers to keep cords from becoming a tangled mess.
- Storage: Needs vary according to job duties, but most cubicles include some type of storage, even if it's just a desk drawer to hold personal belongings. Other options are filing cabinets, wall shelves, overhead cabinets, and wheeled cabinets. Locks help keep stored items secure.
- Ergonomic supports: Many offices have placed an emphasis on ergonomics because it has been shown to increase productivity and reduce downtime due to injury and chronic pain. Options include adjustable monitor stands, sliding keyboard trays, footstools, and even the ability to raise and lower the work surface.
- Common add-ons: Typically, these items don't come standard with a modular office system, but you find them in most offices. They include task lighting, coat hangers, tack boards, and whiteboards.
You have a lot of options when shopping for modular office furniture, but these seven brands are noted for manufacturing high-quality products.
- Bush Industries, Inc.: Also known as BBF, or Bush Business Furniture, this is one of America's leading modular furniture manufacturers. The company has over 50 years in the industry and is headquartered in New York with additional facilities in Nevada and Pennsylvania. BBF built its reputation by providing reliable, durable furnishings to meet nearly any business need.
- Haworth: Founded in 1948 as Modern Products, Haworth celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2018. The manufacturer began creating modular office partitions in 1954 and this type of furniture has been the company's focus ever since. They offer a variety of lines that are easy to reconfigure for any type of working environment.
- Herman Miller: One of the most respected names in the furniture industry, Herman Miller first opened its doors in 1905 but didn't begin creating office furniture until 1942. In addition to high quality, the company is known designing practical product lines that are easy to assemble and resize to fit your needs.
- The HON Company: Founded in 1944, The HON Company has a long and varied background in the manufacturing industry, starting with kitchen cabinets. From its Iowa headquarters, HON designs and manufactures a wide variety of office furniture, including workstations, desks, and chairs. The company credits its success to its attention to detail and designs that look great and feel comfortable.
- Knoll, Inc.: Founded by Hans Knoll in 1938, this manufacturer is renowned for designing modular office furniture that is elegantly attractive yet functional and modern. They offer a variety of product lines to fit differing budgets, with both freestanding and panel-based options available.
- Mayline: Opening its doors in 1939 as a drafting table manufacturer, today Mayline is known for manufacturing a wide array of ergonomic office furniture. In addition to modular workspaces, the company designs tables, storage, seating, and, yes, drafting furniture.
- Steelcase: Founded in Michigan in 1912, today Steelcase has locations across North America as well as Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. The company designs its furniture with an eye toward sustainability, creating durable yet recyclable products.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Cubicles
Creating a cube farm, as it were, requires a lot of forward planning as regards the best way to use the space available. Ideally, your vendor will work with you to help determine the best solution for your needs, but final decisions are still up to you. Consider the following when purchasing a cubicle system:
- Budget: Even though it shouldn't be the final deciding factor (cheapest is rarely best), obviously there are limits to how much you can spend. It may help to allocate funds to each part of the workspace: chairs, work surface, panels, etc. Spend your furniture dollars on the necessities; you can always spring for accessories as funds allow.
- Ergonomics: Healthy employees are productive employees, so you want to create as ergonomic an environment as possible. This includes the obvious, such as desk chairs that offer lumbar support, but also the not-so-obvious, such as the layout of your workspace. For example, a collaborative environment requires an area where people can collaborate, such as a community table and chairs. Do your workers need a quieter environment? Then you may want higher panel walls.
- Available space: Measure the work area so you know exactly how much space is available. Then, be realistic about the space you have, the people you have, and how they're going to move around in the space. Try to visualize the different layouts available. Rows of workstations may be the norm, but that isn't the only option. Play around with ideas on how to best use the space that also supports your working environment.
Author: Angela Escobar