Modern businesses love cubicles for a few reasons. From a bottom line standpoint, cramming employees into cubes rather than offices saves money. This can amount to enormous savings in high-rent markets like the Washington, DC, metro region. Some companies employ cubes for more holistic reasons. They enhance personal interaction and collaboration and give a more egalitarian image of company structure, thus eliminating the corner office as a status symbol.
The American Society of Association Executives (ASE) based in Washington, DC, published a white paper that talked about another outcome of life in a cubicle. To control expenses, businesses are often forced to use any and all available space by doubling up in existing work spaces or creating cubicles in open areas. This heightens the level of interpersonal interaction and sometimes creates a climate for conflict.
From a Feng Shui perspective, physical spaces are one of the most ignored yet most important factors in creating dynamic workplaces. Space matters, and cubicles are difficult spaces if you don’t adjust them. This can translate into constant interruptions, lack of productivity and a high rate of turnover as employees “fly away” from their dreary gray nests.
Office design companies are tackling problems of noise, lack of privacy and distraction for cube dwellers. While you wait, here are some practical things you can do to spice up your work space, elevate your Chi and create a more harmonious and healthier work experience.
Tackle Clutter. In this current economic climate, you might be so grateful to have a job that you never give much thought to your work area. Maybe you moved into a work space where things have been piling up for years. It’s easier to be productive in an organized space, particularly when it comes to cubes. You will feel more in control if you eliminate piles that don’t reflect you or the work you perform. Best of all, you won’t begin each day surrounded by physical obstructions and energetic obstacles. Office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot can help you get and stay organized.
Take Command of Your Space. The entrance to a cubicle has no door and as a result most desks in cubicles do not face the opening. This configuration requires a rearview mirror in order for you to see who is entering your space. You don’t want to be startled every time a co-worker strolls in. Install a mirror — your subconscious will feel protected knowing that you’ve “got its back.”
Adjust Your View. This is the reason people lust after a corner office — windows give you a clear view of the outdoors. Adding plants will help you stay connected to nature, and life energy is crucial if you are indoors all day long. Plants also clean the air and give off oxygen. If you dwell in a cube, it’s important to enhance a dull, linear view. Surrounding yourself with color can invigorate or calm your space, depending on what you require Cubicle Decor sells all kinds of nifty props for “cubies.”
Personalize Your Space. Add certificates, photos and other items that show career recognition and celebrate your professional success. Don’t be afraid to bring joy and creativity into your space through special work-related items that inspire you. Target and The Container Store have all types of desktop accessories and containers.
Standards and Etiquette. Because your cube can say so much about you it’s important to give some thought to what you display. Company standards differ, so be mindful of what’s acceptable to your firm and your industry. Also, being a good neighbor is an important part of cube living — anyone can pop in at any time since the expectation of privacy is nonexistent. Here are some cubicle etiquette pointers from the Society of Technical Communication.
Having a sense of humor goes a long way for “cubies” — Govloop, a DC blog for government employees, has some fun accounts of people’s favorite cubicle experiences. And Herman Miller, the furniture company responsible for modern-day cubicles, gives you Cubicles Gone Wild, a hilarious slide show.