Worst Things to Have Near Your Cubicle

In every office, there are good cubicles and bad cubicles. You may think you can spot them right off the bat, but don’t be so sure. Certainly larger cubicles and ones by windows appear to be prime real estate, but it takes a few days or weeks to know for sure whether a particular cubicle is a gem or a lemon.

It is unlikely for new hires to get to pick their workspace, but if you have the opportunity to move from one cubicle to another, make sure you look beyond the cubicle itself. A good cubicle can be turned bad if it has certain things near it. Before claiming a cubicle, check to see how close some of the items described below are to the cubicle and make sure you can live with what surrounds the workspace.

While you’re living with these items, they can make the work day arduous. On the other hand, they can make for epic cubicle tales.


Empty office floor with cubicles
Nikolaevich / Taxi / Getty Images

Even as offices try to reduce paper usage and some even attempt to be paperless, copiers still churn out printouts and copies. These machines can be noisy and draw a significant amount of foot traffic as employees retrieve their print and copy jobs. The mechanical noise and chit chat can be distracting to those who sit nearby. Office workers can overcome the machine noise over time, but the office gossip is difficult to tune out.


Like copiers, microwaves can be gathering spot for employees to have casual conversations. However, these conversations peak around the lunch hour and are virtually nonexistent other times of the day. The worse problem is the variety of odors. It is bad enough when someone burns a bag of popcorn, but the stench is multiplied when added to lingering scents of frozen dinners and various leftovers. Smells may not be unpleasant on their own, but no one wants to experience a combination of reheated fish, Chinese food and pizza.

High-Traffic Entrance

Some people need white noise in their office environments to concentrate. While a constant hum may drown out the particulars of any one conversation, sitting next to a high-traffic entrance can be overkill even for people who like a noisy office.

The constant opening and closing of a door can be too much to handle. People often do not realize when they cross the threshold between a bustling hallway and a cubicle area where a lower volume is expected.

People Who Don’t Know Cubicle Etiquette

Some people do not know how to behave in an office environment. They can make coping with life inside a cubicle difficult. It’s not that they mean ill, but they just don’t realize how their behavior affects their co-workers. For instance, they may not understand people don’t want to listen to them clip their fingernails.

Dealing with these people can be tricky. Confronting offensive behavior must be done delicately. Even with the best of intentions, misunderstandings and hurt feelings can happen. Sometimes the only solution is to move to a different cubicle. Unfortunately, moving does nothing to stop the offending behavior. Whoever moves in after you has to live with the behavior.

Vending Machines

Not only are vending machines a constant temptation to consume empty calories; vending machines are noisy. Few things are more startling when you’re deep in concentration than to hear a 12-ounce soda can dropping to the bottom of a vending machine.

Break Area

Break areas are nice for employees when they need to step away from work for a few minutes. If the break area is too close to cubicles, noise can bleed over from the break area to the workspace. While it is great for people to take breaks, it isn’t ideal when those breaks hinder others’ productivity.

Coffee Maker

Some workers owe their energy to coffee. With some people visiting the coffee maker multiple times a day, the brewing noise and conversation can be distracting. And if you don’t like the smell of coffee, it can be unbearable.