If we were to ask you what you had in common with a cow, you’d probably say, “Nothing at all.” (Or you’d slap us, which would be understandable.) Upon further reflection, you might say that both cows and people give birth to live young and have milk, and that both seem to enjoy a weekend in the countryside, although cows stay there full-time.
But what would you say if we were to tell you that cows and humans actually have a lot in common in terms of their living conditions and their accommodations at work?
Put your hand down, because we’re not finished. No one is saying that you were raised in a barn. No, cows and people share a common, unexpected link in that they both spend a great deal of their time in cubicles.
Cow cubicles have been in use since around 1950, although no one seems to remember exactly when or who invented them. Human cubicles were famously designed by Robert Propst for Herman Miller in 1967. So both office cubicles and cow cubicles go back to mid-century. Cows, however, never got to enjoy “Mad Men”-style wet bars or chasing secretaries.
Humans win this round: office cubicles offer an average of 48 square feet of space. While this is down from 72 square feet just two years ago, it’s considerably better than cows’ 30 or so square feet. Also, we generally don’t use our cubicles as a restroom, which probably makes them seem even more spacious.
The “Farmer’s Weekly” article includes this awesome quote, which could apply to either cow cubicles or human cubicles: “Training herds to take up residency in cubicles was somewhat of a challenge.” Just ask any manager who’s had to explain to his team why the department is shifting from offices with doors to cubicles. Although, to be fair, no one has asked the cows about how they’d feel in an even less private open office environment.
Cutting Edge Designs:
A cubicle designers’ work is never done. While designers of office cubicles concentrate on improving work flow and making workers more efficient, designers of cow cubicles must focus on more mundane issues — like making the cubicle big enough so that Bessie can chow down and/or be milked with ease, but not so big or poorly angled that it’s difficult to clean. There is, thank goodness, very little use for “slurry scrapers” in most modern offices.
Finally, both human office cubicles and cow cubicles have pretty great — and similar — names. For example, which of these do you think is a cow cubicle, and which do you think is an office cubicle?
- IAE Ultima Cubicle
- Dutch Comfort
Answer: They’re all cow cubicles. Although we wish the last one were for humans. It sounds comfy!