Ah, cubicles — the work space we love to hate. Unlike offices, or even open work areas, cubicles are so reviled that they’ve actually spawned comic strips and movies dedicated to their awfulness. But what is it, exactly, that we find so terrible about cubes? Read on for our favorite complaints, and a few ways to address them.
1. They’re too loud.
Possibly the most annoying thing about cubicles is that they’re shaped like offices, but they are not offices — especially when it comes to noise. In some cubes we’ve worked in, we could hear every single thing that went on in the building, including the cafeteria staff banging on pots and the toilets flushing in the bathroom.
Solution: Noise-cancelling headphones. You could pretty much work directly under a jet engine while wearing these puppies and not even know it.
2. No privacy.
Speaking of things you can hear when you’re working in a cube: the helpless shrieks of co-workers who have been snuck up on by other co-workers rings loud and clear. We once had a co-worker who made a roof and a door for his cube. It lasted about a day before facilities made him take it down.
Solution: A better solution? Change your seating around so that you can see people before they’re reading your TPS reports right over your shoulder. Much less jarring (if not less annoying.)
3. No sunlight.
We’ve worked in offices where the cubicle walls were so high that the people who were right next to the window could not tell you if it was hailing outside.
Solution: Get a sunlamp. We have no idea whether these really help with SAD or Vitamin D absorption. However, they’re so annoying that your coworkers might vote for you to get the window seat, just to keep you from lighting up the office like a disco ball.
4. Lack of personality.
You remember that scene in The Matrix when Neo sees reality for the first time, and finds all the people in their little pods? Those pods had more individuality than many cubicles. Mass-produced anything does not for creativity make.
Solution: This is an easy one: examples of creative cubicle decorating abound on the internet. If nothing else, you can always go the ironic route and opt for cheesy posters.
5. No space.
Cubes are getting smaller. The average cubicle is now 75 square feet, which is just big enough to store one person, one computer, and a pile of broken dreams. We have banged one of our shins on our other shin in some cubicles.
Solution: Mirrors. Watch any decorating show for more than five minutes, and you’ll see someone put a mirror over a mantel or by a door to give a tiny room the illusion of depth. Also, you can use the mirror to practice your interested face for the afternoon meeting.