Do You Speak Cubicle? | New Life Office
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Do You Speak Cubicle?

27 Sep Do You Speak Cubicle?

The office cubicle industry has its own jargon that can be like a foreign language if you are not familiar with it.  Many office furniture dealers do not realize how confusing unfamiliar terms can be for an outsider.  To help you look intelligent and/or a little less confused, today I have put together a list of  common cubicle terms and their meanings.



Workstation:  Area surrounded by panels containing worksurfaces and related componentry and seating designed to be inhabited by a worker or group of workers. Areas meant to be occupied solely by business machines are generally categorized as equipment stations.


Components:  Parts and pieces required to fully assemble a given product. It can refer to items in a completed system (Panels, Worksurfaces, and Pedestals), or to items required to complete a system.


Ergonomics:  The study and design of various products and tools focusing on the element of human interaction. Usual and repetitive human movements, positions, functions, and environmental considerations are the basis for such design and construction. The purpose is to provide comfort and stress relief to the user.

In furniture this concept is vital in preventing common office injuries to the wrists, back, and eyes. Ergonomics focuses on such usual events as: time spent sitting in one’s chair, interacting with ones desk, retrieving files, repetitive computer usage, etc. Studies have shown that companies committed to using ergonomically formulated devices have dramatically lessened health insurance costs and law suits resulting from stress and fatigue related injuries.


Freestanding Furniture:  Any furniture which does not require support by a panel structure in or out of a workstation. It is possible to place a freestanding desk or credenza, for instance, within the framework of a panel system.


Panels:  Any structure covered in fabric, wood, laminate, or glass used to create private spaces and/or support other componentry. Panels come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors depending on the specific system.
Panels are the first item taken into consideration when planning a systems office, as they determine the space required to fit componentry and overall floor space requirements.
Panels are available in numerous sizes, fabrics, paint finishes, wood finishes, glass transparencies etc. They can be manufactured with the ability to plug power into their bases or even at the worksurface height, or with no power capabilities whatsoever.
Panels can be as high as 80″ or as wide as 60″. Acoustical panels are generally tackable as well. Some have open frames in order to promote interaction between co-workers. There are panels with doors in order to provide additional privacy.
Depending on the panel configuration, panels are either self-supporting or must be supported by their corresponding componentry (desks, etc.) and/or by wall or floor mounted brackets.


Acoustical Panel:   Panels, which are manufactured in accordance with the sound absorption guidelines, stipulated by Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association.
Panels that offer a Noise Reduction Coefficient(NRC) of at least 0.60 (1.00 providing the most absorption), are sufficient for sound captivation. All systems furniture manufacturers produce panels with these sound-dampening qualities.


Base Cover or Raceway Cover:  Section of material, generally made of metal, which covers the open section at the bottom of the panel. The openings purpose is to wire the panel for electrical power, computer networking cables and telecommunication lines.


Creep:  The amount which a run of panels will increase in length due to varying configurations and additional bracketry. Although the increment per station may be negligible (as little as 1/4″), the collective effect may cause inaccuracies to critical dimensions (walls, windows, and aisle ways) within the space where stations are installed.


Top Cap:  The material or part which covers the opening on the top of a panel.


Cantilever:  A triangular or “L” shaped bracket which supports (by attachment to) one or both ends of a worksurface to a panel.  Cantilevers provide more support than do other types of braketry.  Greater support can be achieved with end panels or floor to surface components.


End Panel:  These are unlike the panels used to construct workstations.  Commonly thinner than the panels that are for workstation construction, they are neither acoustical nor tackable and are only utilized in the support of worksurfaces or to create a freestanding desk.


Grommets:  Holes within the worksurface that allow wiring to pass through to power source (cable management). 


Transaction Top:  Any panel mounted worksurface above the main worksurfaces that allows the user to interact with standing guests.  Commonly utilized in reception areas, these worksurfaces are generally no more than 18″ deep and come in a variety of lengths.


Worksurface:  Any flat surface which provides a worksurface within a workstation.  The top of a desk, freestanding or modular, is considered a worksurface.


Worksurfaces made of laminate come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most prevalent being rectangular.  They can be concave or convex, “P” shaped, “L” shaped, bulleted, or in a triangular shape for a corner position.


Pedestal:  Any storage component used under a worksurface. Pedestals may or may not provide support. Pedestals may or may not provide support. Pedestals are available in different configurations such as Box/Box/File which has two 6: drawers for personal items/stationary etc. and one File drawer on bottom, or File/File which has two file drawers stacked on top of each other.


Pencil Drawer:  Small drawer located beneath a worksurface or in a pedestal used for storing stationery and small office supplies.


Lateral File:  Storage component containing two drawers (wider than 24″).  Available to use under a worksurface or freestanding.


Binder Bin:  Panel or wall supported storage cabinet located within a cubical, above a worksurface.


Open Shelf:  Used in the same situation as an overhead where open storage is desired.


Base Power Feed:  Provides power to the powerways (electrical conduits within the base of panel:  from the buildings main power source.


Hardwired:  The electrical connection of a panel system to the building’s power source.  Can be from floor to the base of the panel or from the ceiling to panel.


Harness:  The concealed cables within the system’s power system.


Power Pole:  Brings power from the ceiling to the panel system.


Raceway:  The physical part of the bottom of panel which provides the conduit for power.


Receptacle:  The outlets connected to the powerways.  Receptacles are designed to have varying amount of outlets and line designations.  The number of outlets in the receptacle determines the reference for that receptacle.  In other words a receptacle with one outlet is a simplex receptacle.  A receptacle with two outlets is a duplex.


Keyboard Tray:  From a simple under worksurface shelf, to a highly sophisticated and adjustable under worksurface mechanism, a keyboard tray not only frees the worksurface of the keyboard but also provides an ergonomically correct surface on which to type.


Tackboard:  A vertical tackable surface used when additional tacking surface is required. A vertical tackable surface used when additional tacking surface is required.


Tasklight:  Any light which is used to provide illumination from other than the main lighting sources. These lights can be mounted under a binder bin or open shelf, or they may be freestanding on the worksurface.

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