8 by 10 feet of hell - your cubicle

The National Research Council continues to work on a project they call the Cost-effective Open-Plan Environment.Why?

An effective open-plan office must provide environmental satisfaction for its occupants as well as meeting an organization's budgetary requirements.

As the Globe and Mail tells us today, the NRC's four years of study have developed two software programs that:

will tell office designers whether their cubicles are too cramped, too dark, too noisy or too drafty. The program will also help employers avoid the all-too-common maze effect in many cubicle colonies.

One program can model how sounds move inside a cubicle and from one work space to another. It can also model how alternate cubicle designs may affect noise patterns from, say, a radio.

The other program helps designers take cost, materials, geometry and user satisfaction into account when selecting cubicle designs. It will help calculate a cost-benefit comparison (Hmmm. If I only use 20 watt bulbs, the financial clerk may suffer eye damage) and offers some measure of user satisfaction with lighting, privacy and ventilation.

I'd say give it a try, but the software does demand a level of familiarity with office construction materials.