I can't decide who won last weeks competition, I am torn between the philanthropic office suggested by dumberthan and the idea of not working suggested by Haveadamnniceday. Therefore it's a draw.
Although, a short while ago, I went through a period of not working. For one reason and another I found myself inbetween jobs. Unfortunately, I was also short of money, which didn't make for a pleasant combination. Next time i am out of work, I want loads of money, other wise all I do is sit round worrying. No fun.
Anyway, the subject of this weeks rant/blog/ is the upcoming release of Herman Miller's cubicle 2.0 You can see a more indepth look at it here.
The new cubicle actually looks about as nice as a cubicle could get, but, and this is the thing...It's still a bloody cubicle. What is it that makes corporate America think a six feet by eight feet box is going to provide an optimum working environment for their employees? I just don't get it.
This weeks competition:
"If I was in charge, I would....."
"If I was in charge, I would make sure that all my employees had a good view of outside, and access to all the free snacks and beer they wanted."
"I don't go postal because every night I plot my boss's slow and tortured demise in my dreams."
Nice one! (taken slightly out of context)
As some of you may or may not remember, I spent the last ten years or so massaging stressed out clients who, on the whole, came to me with work related stress, much of which could have been avoided by one of the following:
A company that gave a shit about it's employees
A greater tolerance from co-workers
An attitude shift
The first one is hard to deal with, because when you spend 8 hours or more a day working for a company that thinks very little of you, it's an uphill battle to maintain any sort of work related self esteem. The only way to deal with this is to not let it get to you, take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say I am worth something, I am I am." If that doesn't work, QUIT.
Everyone is in the same boat, and it's really easy to let your frustrations spill over onto your co-workers, and vice versa. Sometimes, just talking about why you are feeling so bad will help. They are probably feeling the same way, and the real target of your frustration needs to be the company and environment, not your cubicle mate because they speak with an annoying phone voice.
The last one on the list is perhaps the hardest and easiest to change. I have spoken before about how a slight change in your environment can help with not only your own attitude, but those around. Seriously, try changing something and see if there's a change in perceptions. One day, wear a drab colored item of clothing to work, and spend the day complaining about things. Next week, wear a brightly colored item of clothing, put a bunch of fresh flowers on the receptionist's desk and smile at everyone. Sit back and see if the love spreads, and take note of other's attitude towards you. It's like ripples in a pond.
Oh, and as far as the title of this post goes, my own website, www.youcube.us has been collecting photos of the sort of thing people do to their work cubicle to make it more bearable, and this is a sample. If you are familiar with icanhazceezebrger, I copied the idea from them.
I hope you like this one. There's nothing like jumping on somebody else's bandwagon, but I have some fun pics on my website. Take a look, it might give you an idea for your own cubicle. And if you have any photos I would love to have them. Send them to:
This weeks competition:
My ideal workspace would be XXXXXX.
As usual, I'll start the ball rolling:
My ideal workspace would be a beach hut on a desert island with nothing but palm trees, hula girls and a broadband internet connection.
"I want to be a free range human because it is my god damn freaking right to be!"
Too true. Sounds like a heartfelt sentiment.
Which prompted me to see if I could find anything worse than a cubicle.
I was looking around for pictures of workspaces that could be considered worse than a cubicle and found this little gem. It looks as though it's in China. *shudder* I think I would end up killing someone if I had to work like this. It does indeed make a typical cubicle look good. I can't imagine how much fun this would be, it looks like there are hundreds of people all in the same room, all talking on the phone at the same time.
It's all very well saving money for the company, but this is ridiculous. If anyone knows where this was taken, please let me know.
I spent the last ten years of my working life as a massage therapist, and many of my clients came to me with work stress related issues. Either from poor ergonomics, or clashes with co-workers and bosses. I treated a lot of them very successfully by suggesting simple changes at work. Wearing a brightly colored sweater, adding some potted plants or flowers. Simple things, but they have a ripple effect on the way you feel and the way people around react to you. Try it and see. Wear a drab color sweater one day and a bright yellow one the next. See if there's a difference. Or bring in a plant or something personal and cheery. You never know, it might make the day seem a little better.
In the meantime, this week's competition:
"I don't go postal at work, because XXXXXXX"
As usual, my feeble effort:
I don't go postal at work because all my cubicle mates are paid up members of the NRA and have concealed carry permits.
Of course, aliens have not landed, but if they did, and went a-wandering, eventually they would come across a cubicle farm. They could be forgiven for thinking that humans are just another crop to be grown. Is there really much difference between a cubicle farm and say, a chicken farm? Proportionately, I don’t think the chickens have quite as much space as humans, but it’s got to be close.
Everyone knows that chickens grown in this fashion taste like shit. Just buy a typical chicken at your local grocery store and then buy a free range one from somewhere. Taste the difference?
Makes you think doesn’t it? Why on earth bosses think they can get the best out of their workers by putting them in little boxes is beyond me. OK, it’s cheaper, but as my mum always told me, “if it’s free it’s not worth anything.”
This weeks competition:
I want to be a free-range human because.........
The winner of last week's competition:
"I would like a napping cot in my cubicle, but my boss is such a complete bastard, I am not allowed, so I have to make do with a stack of styrofoam coffee cups to use as a pillow."
"I would have liked to work in a bullpen because nobody can steal your stuff off or out of your desk and not be seen. Plus, if one of your officemates goes postal, it'll be easier to move from desk to desk without having to get up and run for cover, and so you'll be a harder target to shoot at. Just pray your back isn't to the door!"
Thank you HaveaDamnNiceDay. And I wish you a damn nice day. In fact, take the day off, go for a walk in the park, maybe have a few beers in the sun and watch the world go by. If your boss asks what's going on, just send them to me, I'll straigten the whole thing out.
However positive your attitude to life in general and working in a cubicle in particular, it is difficult to get too excited about working in a box. I have been collecting many people’s attempts to brighten up their space, and here are a few good examples. High-tech minimalist versus nature. Whatever floats your particular boat, one of the most important things you can do when working in a cubicle, is make it “your” space. Of course some companies frown upon that, but if all you are allowed is a personal photo frame, for goodness’ sake, take one to work to remind yourself that you are indeed an individual. I still want more photos, so if you have any interesting ones, send them along to www.youcube.us
This weeks competition:
"I would like XXXXX in my cubicle, but my boss is such a complete bastard/bitch, I am not allowed, so I have to make do with XXXXXXX."
I would like the Los Angeles under-21 women's volleyball team in my cubicle, but I have to make do with my imagination instead.
"I envy people who work in a cubicle because I've had to do work standing up, and it damn near ruined my knee and my elbows. I also envy people who work in a cubicle because at least you guys have others near you, no matter how annoying. I had to work at a desk, and yah it was nice and spiffy lookin, but it was a solitary place, with no windows and no sun, and NO PEOPLE. Being a human creature, I can't just go 8 hours with no human contact. It makes me a wierdo! I corner people and claw at their jackets and beg them to just stand there and talk to me for five minutes!!!! I now work in a cubicle, but I can see everyone around me and since I'm not starved for human contact, I don't feel like I need to be talking to them nonstop. I guess if you work with remotely nice or interesting people, a cubicle isn't so bad..... "
I have talked before about the cubicle's history and the inventor, Robert Propst, who despised the way the cubicle was developed. Then I started looking into his thinking behind the idea in the first place, and discovered what he was trying to do.
He was trying to make a better workplace than the norm that existed in the pre-cubicle days, the Bullpen. The photo on the left is a movie still taken from the film, "The Apartment."
Hundreds of desks, row upon row, just inches from the desk behind, in front, and to the sides. Yeuch!
Other people had attempted to improve upon the situation as well, and the photo on the right is Frank Lloyd Wright's attempt to deal with the office overcrowding situation in the 1930's. This is the Johnson's wax offices circa 1936.
Either way, I am not sure whether Propst achieved what he was trying to do, which was to make a more private, personal workspace yet maintain efficiency and cut costs at the same time. I have a feeling that cost-cutting has overridden all other considerations.
I will shortly be posting some interesting personal decoration/individualization attempts to make the cubicle a more worker-friendly space.
This weeks competition:
"I would have liked to work in a bullpen, because, XXXXXX"
Once again, my own feeble effort:
"I would have liked to work in a bullpen, because I like nothing better than to stare at the back of somebody's head all day long."
Robert Propst invented the modern cubicle in 1968.
More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, people are still trying to get out of his pain-in-the-ass box. I personally find it hard to invisage a work space more soul-destroying than the cubicle.
You look out over the top of your divider and see row upon row of identical spaces, populated by workers as unfortunate as you, with no hope of individuality on the horizon.
I would like to believe that it was his intention to provide something positive rather than what he actually achieved. After the event, when the corporate world embraced the box in which so many of us live out our work lives, Probst lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."
Although this sounds a little like Oppenheimer's lament after the nuclear bomb was dropped. I do wonder what his thinking was, because I do find it hard to believe that he lacked the vision to see where this was likely to go.
The winner of last weeks competition is:
"My boss is such a b that I would like to see the broomstick which is sticking up her skanky backside sling her into a ditch full of raw sewage, where her ratty balding head is mistaken for pond weeds by a rabid, incontinent goose."
A lot of emotion went into this one, and I couldn't resist, thank you, LABTECH.
I have to say, I liked cellophane girl's entry as well. Although, what's with the body hair obssesion? See me for some private therapy, LOL
This week, I would like to hear about workspaces that are potentially worse than a cucicle, and would make someone WANT to work in a cubicle:
"I envy people that work in a cubicle because, XXXXXX."
I will, once again, start the ball rolling:
I envy people that work in a cubicle because I work in a cardboard box, loosely held together with bits of string and tape, underneath a twelve lane highway where it rains twenty four hours a day and the box leaks.
Thanks for the entries everyone, I hope you had fun coming up with things you would rather be doing than working in a cubicle. My personal favourite, and therefore the winner is:
"I'd rather pluck out my eyelashes one by one with a rusty pair of scalding hot tweezers than work in a cubicle."
Thank you CELLOPHANE GIRL for that one.
A little bit about myself, and a stress remedy anecdote.
I used to work for a company in the UK called Dixons Photographic. (They are now Currys) Retail photographic, HiFi, televisions etc.
I was the manager of one of their shops. I had two direct bosses: a regional manager, and an area manager.
Monday morning invariably heralded the arrival of one or other, who would give me instructions on how the shop should look. What products were to be advertised, which should have pride of place in the window, how much space to devote to product XYZ.
Thursday or Friday, I would receive a visit from boss number two, who invariably contradicted whatever boss number one had said. He would get all bent out of shape, and would always ask the question, "Who the hell told you to do that?"
I would always answer, the same thing every time. "the other boss." the reply was always the same. "That's bullshit, do it the way I've just told you."
So I, and my staff would spend another day re-arranging everything the way boss number two wanted it. Needless to say, the staff were not amused, having slaved over the first arrangement, and understandably held me responsible as the one now telling them that everything they had done was wrong, and now needed changing.
Of course, I would then look forward to another visit from boss number one, and the bollocking that would follow for not doing as he'd asked, and then the familiar, "Who the hell told you to do that?"
And so on it went. To this day, I don't know whether or not they did it on purpose, just to fuck with me and the staff, but after a while, I just gave up, and stopped doing what either of them told me to. I just did it MY way, and because they both came and saw something "The other boss" had told me to do, they gave me the usual shouting-at, and left.
I was happy, as I had half as much work to do. My staff were happy for the same reason, and both bosses were happy as they got to give me a bollocking for not doing it "their" way.
Neither of them managed to work out what was going on, or if they did, they never said anything. The shop was successful, and turnover continued to increase, to the point where my commission level had to be reduced, but that's another story/rant.
The moral is, of course, that sometimes pleasing yourself MUST take precedence over pleasing your boss. Sometimes it's appropriate to look after yourself first, your boss second. And if you can't look after yourself, how can you be expected to look after anybody else?
This weeks competition/stress reliever:
"My boss is such a complete bastard/bitch, I would like to see them XXXXXXX"
There are many different kinds of stress. Some stress is Good. It's the kind of stress that makes you a better person and drives you to achieve the impossible. Some stress is Very Bad. It's the kind of stress that drives you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge leaving a young family behind.
What's the difference? How can you turn Bad Stress into Good stress? Are there ways of relieving the Bad stress?
Some of it is a matter of perspective and timing. When you boss drops another load of paperwork on your desk at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, meaning you have to miss your kid's basketball game, it's hard to imagine that as anything other than "Pain in the Ass Stress." If he'd given you the same task on a Monday morning it wouldn't even register on the stress-o-meter.
Not letting it turn into Very Bad Stress is vital. In this column, I plan on suggesting a few ways to relieve that stress and stop it from turning into Very Bad Stress. Ranting is good, and this site is already a great venue for that, so I'll try to come up with a few ideas, and maybe have some fun on the way. Just thinking of something positive can help. It doesn't change the stressor, but maybe stop it turning Bad.
This week I am running a little competition. I'd like you to take a few minutes (while the boss is looking the other way) and think about what you'd rather be doing than working in a cubicle. Just fill in the blanks and send them in as comments. It can be serious, funny, or anywhere in between, just anything other than work.
"I'd rather XXXXXXXXXX than work in a cubicle."
I will start the ball rolling, but I feel sure someone can come up with better:
I'd rather eat my own testicles, lightly sauteed in a red wine mushroom sauce than work in a cubicle.