Cube vs. Office at Microsoft

I received a short email from Patrick Merlevede, a researcher on emotional intelligence as applied to the HR space, asking questions about Microsoft’s practice of providing each programmer with their own office. In my 8 months in the company, I’ve actually been asked this a dozen or more times, and so I thought I’d share my reply:

For the most part, yes, everyone has their own office. Of course, with rapid expansion in many areas, there are a lot of folks doubled up – and sometimes even tripled up. But the Microsoft space planning model has always been to provide individual offices. Having said that, the company has purchased a few buildings in the area with open floor plans, and plans to leave them open. Some groups are interested in moving into these spaces. Steve Ballmer made a speech this summer regarding the expansion of employee benefits, and on this point he said that those teams interested in moving into cubes/open space would be able to move, those that were interested in staying in offices would stay. So things are fairly flexible depending on an organizations needs and growth.

Personally, I can’t stand being in a cube, and find myself much more productive when I can shut the door and have a conversation, an impromptu meeting at my whiteboard, or crank the music up and get the content out. I realize that some people prefer the open floor plan, and some teams operate more efficiently with the increased collaboration that can come from cubes — IF organized in a way that also allows individuals to retreat into their own personal spaces.

Thanks for the note, Patrick.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.