Are office cubicles an American thing? I've worked as a software engineer in England for twenty years and the only place I've ever seen a cubicle is in a Dilbert cartoon. There's a ScottAdams
quote which goes something like "I dreamed of an office with a door and was unhappy, until I met a man with no cubicle".
In the UK, open plan without cubicles is usual. The commonest layout seems to be clusters of four desks with (if you're lucky) a small divider between you and your neighbour.
For programming, it works quite well. It encourages talking. I would find it really odd to be in my own little box, having to either e-mail the person next to me or walk around to their cubicle to ask a question.
Walk around? We just talk. No need to even get out of your seat.
Cubicles are very rare in the UK, but I have seen them. It was some part of the old GEC at Poole (GEC-Plessey maybe? Can't remember). And it was very horrible. -- KeithBraithwaite
In Australia, the trend seems to be similar to the UK; every place I've worked for has put four corner-desks in a quadrangle arrangement, with walkways down the middle. Stack these in rows of two to four sets per "corridor", with dividers separating the corridors. Sort of a four-person shared "open office". Having seen true cubicles during a visit to IBM in the States, I'm glad to have the space. -- RobertWatkins
At Telefonica in Lima Peru I saw several programmers at small, separate desks working in a rather large room. Not much desk space but plenty of opportunity for interaction.
I had one job where it was all the programmers in one room; using PCs on folding conference tables. I was an intern back then, so I didn't think all that much about it either way. My current job is in a cubicle; however, my cubicle is also filled with racks of test equipment--both the equipment I'm developing, and others I'm using to test with. (Most of it made by my employer). Ahh, the joys of EmbeddedSystems
. -- ScottJohnson