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(The Atlantic)   "Why do people willingly work in cubicles when the fabric boxes make them so miserable?" Well, probably because it was a better option than running a Walmart cash register   (theatlantic.com) divider line 171
    More: Obvious, American Life, Americans, U.S. Steel, George Packer, division of labour, office space  
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5928 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Apr 2014 at 5:35 AM (27 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-15 12:19:22 AM  
You see this relationship between power and design throughout the history of the office: in the early clerical offices (think Bartleby, the Scrivener or Scrooge's office in A Christmas Carol)

I would prefer not to.
 
2014-04-15 12:25:30 AM  
fta open-plan offices diminish very few of the problems associated with cubicle-ridden offices, and in some cases they augment them.

When I was a cube farmer, I enjoyed the fact that management was detached from daily operations and shuttered away behind doors. I loved that I could scratch, pick, and fart with relative anonymity. I loved that we lowly grunts could stop, collaborate, and listen and overcome managerial obstacles to achieving company goals. But now i go crop dusting about every 10 minutes because my ego and self aggrandizement are paramount.
 
2014-04-15 12:34:16 AM  
Fabric-walled booths are very difficult to mop
 
2014-04-15 01:23:52 AM  
www3.familyoldphotos.com

I'm guessing people willingly work in cubicles because this sucked serious ass.
 
2014-04-15 03:14:55 AM  
when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.
 
2014-04-15 05:40:03 AM  
Let's see...work in a cubicle or sleep under a bridge.  Tough choice.

/says the guy who's last office was bigger than most NYC apartments.
 
Skr
2014-04-15 05:41:26 AM  
Pretty easy to personalize your Cube. Heck, get a mini fridge for under the desk and you'll never need to go home.
 
2014-04-15 05:42:09 AM  

some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.


You are a troublemaker. I like you.
 
2014-04-15 05:44:05 AM  

Skr: Pretty easy to personalize your Cube. Heck, get a mini fridge for under the desk and you'll never need to go home.


No unauthorized appliances!  That's one demerit.
 
2014-04-15 05:51:45 AM  
Umm, because you don't have a Choice? Don't have those dividers but my computer desk and another table and credenza have been shoved into a windowless, what used to be a file storage room. That's just the way it is, no choice.
 
2014-04-15 05:52:33 AM  

Relatively Obscure: [www3.familyoldphotos.com image 500x324]

I'm guessing people willingly work in cubicles because this sucked serious ass.


and yet some assholes managed to convince a lot of executive types that the next big thing is open concept, fark me its going to suck.
 
2014-04-15 05:53:24 AM  
..and they're all made out of ticky-tacky
and thy all look just the same,
 
2014-04-15 05:55:52 AM  

Notabunny: fta open-plan offices diminish very few of the problems associated with cubicle-ridden offices, and in some cases they augment them.

When I was a cube farmer, I enjoyed the fact that management was detached from daily operations and shuttered away behind doors. I loved that I could scratch, pick, and fart with relative anonymity. I loved that we lowly grunts could stop, collaborate, and listen and overcome managerial obstacles to achieving company goals. But now i go crop dusting about every 10 minutes because my ego and self aggrandizement are paramount.


This comment makes me miss the days when I taught composition and could reward clever writing.
 
2014-04-15 05:59:13 AM  
I grew up carrying sprinkler pipe on  a potato farm in Idaho for a job in high school.  Try that for a while compared to flipping burgers ;)
 
2014-04-15 05:59:41 AM  
Cubes don't make me miserable, nor do open spaces.  My company probably won't do the latter, but if we did I'd probably prefer it.
 
GBB
2014-04-15 06:00:56 AM  
Notabunny:I loved that we lowly grunts could stop, collaborate, and listen and overcome managerial obstacles to achieving company goals.

The only purpose for mid-level managers is to justify their own existence.
 
2014-04-15 06:02:40 AM  
Willingly and out of necessity are not the same.
 
GBB
2014-04-15 06:02:42 AM  
The whole thing applies.
 
2014-04-15 06:04:32 AM  
zivil.evangelisch.de
Starting point for cubicles.
 
2014-04-15 06:07:58 AM  

BumpInTheNight: Relatively Obscure: [www3.familyoldphotos.com image 500x324]

I'm guessing people willingly work in cubicles because this sucked serious ass.

and yet some assholes managed to convince a lot of executive types that the next big thing is open concept, fark me its going to suck.


Depends on your coworkers.  I worked in an open environment back before it was cool.  It worked for our group because we could all see the gigantic status board and balance our workload amongst ourselves and have conversations about said workload without having to pop up like prairie dogs.  Of course, the company president often threatened to put up cubicle walls to reduce the chatter.  Even tho the chatter was work related and the purpose of the chatter was to ensure that projects were properly prioritized and handled efficiently.  Some people will make problems if they can't find any.

Basically, if your coworkers suck, any configuration will suck.  If your coworkers are great, a PHB will find a way to destroy your productivity.
 
2014-04-15 06:13:49 AM  

some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.


And then what? The jobs that are done in cubicles will still need to be done.
 
2014-04-15 06:18:16 AM  
Where I work, they're re-building all of the floors of the main building: bright, new cubicles for those who work in the office and an open-space area for remote workers who have to come in once or twice a week. I've used that open-space area. Essentially, it's a very long table with phone, electrical, and network connectivity every few feet along both sides of the table. Basically, remote workers come in with their laptops and plug in where they can stare at the person directly across from them. I assume this is what people are referring to as an open-space design.

I'll take my cubicle with it's three walls and ginormous monitor, thank you very much.

CSB:
Apparently, whoever designed the new office space didn't take into account that hard, flat surfaces reflect sound. My new cubicle is directly across from the break room, which has lots of cabinets with hard, flat, shiny surfaces. Nothing in that room absorbs sound in any way. Essentially, I'm sitting directly across from a loudspeaker. I'm sitting there one afternoon talking to a co-worker (she was facing me with her back to the break room) when someone else walked into the break room and farted. LOUDLY. It resonated. People have no awareness of their surroundings.
/CSB
 
2014-04-15 06:18:56 AM  
When the ship jumps off what the fark you gonna do? Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.
 
2014-04-15 06:38:19 AM  
Oh how I long for the days of cubicals. I wanted to write a Four Yorkshiremen sketch to go with that statement but it's 5am.
 
2014-04-15 06:45:11 AM  
I enjoyed my days in a cubicle - the conversations over the walls were outrageous.  Until the day that a new hire was offended by our off-colored jokes. Amazing how one person can suck the life out of an already crappy job.
 
2014-04-15 06:46:45 AM  
My company will be moving buildings in a couple of months. They did a survey a few years ago to find out what was important to us. Top of the list were private offices and windows.

So of course, the decision was made to move to a building with a few shared offices along the windowline, and interior, windowless private offices. And as an added bonus, the current 125-sq.-ft. offices we have become in the new building 75-sq.-ft. singles or 150-sq.-ft. shared. Also, on a completely unrelated note, did you know that a recent survey of American prisons showed that the average prisoner in solitary confinement has an 80-sq.-ft. cell?

Not living in a cube is nice, but a windowless 7.5'x10' pen isn't much of a step up.
 
2014-04-15 06:47:19 AM  

some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.


When will you shepherd us to the killing fields?  When will you slit the throats of some of the moneyed to incite our murderous frenzy?   It is spring, and grass grows thickest when fed by blood choking with cholesterol.
 
2014-04-15 06:47:43 AM  
blog.codinghorror.com
 
2014-04-15 06:51:42 AM  
Because they pay me to. I certainly wouldn't do it for free.
 
2014-04-15 06:55:26 AM  

some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.


HA! Who`s out of touch?

They sold the gold long ago and they bought your and your childrens dreams with it. Now they are keeping us, sorry, you working with the promise of more promises now!
 
2014-04-15 06:55:32 AM  
I work in a cube all day, then when I shop at Walmart the checkouts are self-serve.

Why not both jpg?
 
2014-04-15 06:59:16 AM  

DrunkenBob: some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.

When will you shepherd us to the killing fields?  When will you slit the throats of some of the moneyed to incite our murderous frenzy?   It is spring, and grass grows thickest when fed by blood choking with cholesterol.


Best to defend the status quo with idiotic hyperbole lest people realize there is a better way to live.
 
2014-04-15 07:04:09 AM  

DrPainMD: some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.

And then what? The jobs that are done in cubicles will still need to be done.


That's a generous sentiment.
 
2014-04-15 07:04:12 AM  
Because it's hot as Fark here in the summers.
 
2014-04-15 07:06:23 AM  
After almost 9 years in the industry, and over 6 at my current place, I finally got my own window office late last year... and I would not go back to the cubicles. I love my office. I love that I can close the door. I love having my own coat rack. I have four network jacks, including one directly to the outside. I have a 30 amp outlet if I need it.

Plus, my office is the only one on my floor, aside from the four corner offices, to not have inside windows. The other offices aren't aquariums - it's about 50% frosted glass, but you can still tell if someone is (quietly) railing the secretary on their desk.
 
2014-04-15 07:07:04 AM  
I currently work in an "open design" office.

I would rather have cubicle walls.

Our IT department (which consists of one guy) moved into the break room, which used to be a garage .  Our office is a converted used car lot, with many large windows which makes you feel like you are working in a fishbowl due to being next to a major road and very...very bright lights.  I keep requesting for parabolic shades on the lights but my requests go ignored, its like working outside in the sun, and I think it is giving me a headache.

I am trying to convince my work to move me in there with him because it is darker, quieter, and I am basically IT support (the link between the software and the IT department).
 
2014-04-15 07:08:22 AM  

Nexzus: but you can still tell if someone is (quietly) railing the secretary on their desk.


Why quietly? Is she ugly?
 
2014-04-15 07:10:17 AM  

untaken_name: Because they pay me to. I certainly wouldn't do it for free.


This. I like my job, more or less, but people look at me weird when I say that the only reason I go is because they pay me. Yes, my sole motivation for work is money. Not getting rich, mind you, but money. As if almost everyone doesn't feel the same, deep down.
 
2014-04-15 07:11:34 AM  
I don't mind my cube, it's not tight, the ceilings are 20-some feet high, I've got my three monitors,  sit-stand desk, and I'm good,  if I want privacy we have a few hundred "get away" rooms I can go work in.
 
2014-04-15 07:13:21 AM  

ChubbyTiger: untaken_name: Because they pay me to. I certainly wouldn't do it for free.

This. I like my job, more or less, but people look at me weird when I say that the only reason I go is because they pay me. Yes, my sole motivation for work is money. Not getting rich, mind you, but money. As if almost everyone doesn't feel the same, deep down.


There's even a special term for people who work for free.

/Suckers.
 
2014-04-15 07:18:16 AM  

untaken_name: Nexzus: but you can still tell if someone is (quietly) railing the secretary on their desk.

Why quietly? Is she ugly?


Well, the doors are solid, but the walls are standard "Two sheets of drywall with metal studs" with no sound insulation.

And yeah, ours is pretty ugly. Wouldn't want tidbit that getting around, so I told her she had to be quiet.

/wait, what?
 
2014-04-15 07:21:30 AM  

ChubbyTiger: untaken_name: Because they pay me to. I certainly wouldn't do it for free.

This. I like my job, more or less, but people look at me weird when I say that the only reason I go is because they pay me. Yes, my sole motivation for work is money. Not getting rich, mind you, but money. As if almost everyone doesn't feel the same, deep down.


I wouldn't say it's the onlyreason, but yes it is the main reason, because if they stopped paying me I would stop working, and I never volunteer my time for the company. I have a family, life is short, and I know "karma points" means jack shiat in the business world .  You can call me "not a team player" but I work alone most of the time anyway.

I do get frequent downtime to learn some new skills and mess around with CAD software, as well as do some R&D for the company (which I wouldn't get to do if I didn't work here because the software can cost up to $50,0000 a license), so money isn't the only good thing about my job.
 
2014-04-15 07:34:39 AM  
Because having walls, despite them being thin and short, gives you at least some small measure of privacy.  It's hard to spend even a few minutes on Fark or whatever when everyone in the room can see your screen at any moment.  And it's hard to concentrate on your own work when you can see what everyone else in the room is doing.  And let's face it - private offices are becoming increasingly scarce in large companies that simply can't afford that much empty space.

My team is hiring so many people these days we're bursting at the seams already.  Even the high-level managers have cubicles, and what few offices there are have been largely repurposed into conference rooms.
 
2014-04-15 07:35:52 AM  
I never thought I'd miss the 8x8 cube with the 7 foot high walls my first job at the company provided....until the next step "up"(?) the ladder where I had a 7x7 with 3.5 foot high walls in a more open environment on the other side of town.

Now I'm in my 10th year of fully remote work, with the door to my basement ten feet away and the fridge & TV close at hand.

/I hope I stay on this career path...I could never go back into a traditional office setting.
//Then I'd have to shower every day
///And stop farting every five minutes.
////And the porn.  The sweet, beautiful porn.
 
2014-04-15 07:38:51 AM  
I remember the days of the cube farm..... I was smart enough to sock all they money they gave me away and make smart investments.  I retired at 34 and moved to the tropics so this article and all the comments remind me how glad I am that I escaped from that hell.  A few of the comments stood out:

"when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time"

A. Never. People are farking stupid as hell.  It is entirely possible to take the money they give you and buy your freedom back, however the social machine and everything we watch in America tells us to spend it.

 "I like my job, more or less, but people look at me weird when I say that the only reason I go is because they pay me. Yes, my sole motivation for work is money. Not getting rich, mind you, but money. As if almost everyone doesn't feel the same, deep down. "

A. More of this.  When I communicate with the people I used to work with, many of them claim they like their job and saving up and retiring early wouldn't do it for them.  This is the single most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life.  I usually respond with something along the lines of "fine, then go do it and give up your paycheck".  It turns out that it isn't in the realm of possibility and even if they could, they wouldn't drive to work at 6am only to spend all day in their cube taking directions from others.  There would be all kinds of changes in schedule and purpose as to what they do all day.
 
2014-04-15 07:39:23 AM  
Here is a picture of my leg and foot while working.
Office work, blarghhh.img.fark.net
 
2014-04-15 07:42:53 AM  
After reading TFA and this thread, I guess I am spoiled at my office.  We redesigned everything  last year (just five of us in the office area of this location), replacing all the desks, bookshelves, etc. (but not the carpet, sadly) to a very open office area although there is still some privacy.  We are in a historic building so the giant (16' or so) high windows and exposed brick won't be changed any time soon.  For me it was a giant upgrade to be transferred here from another one of my company's locations where I worked in a large, windowless room.

/adding a personal fridge this year
//love my job
 
2014-04-15 07:46:13 AM  

some_beer_drinker: when the fark will you sheep revolt, and take our gold back from the rich fat cats who are laughing at us? for farks sake...it it is way way past time.


Sorry,  I got distracted by the new season of Game of Thrones and the announcement that a major movie studio was casting an actor in a comic book movie  that I found most unsatisfactory.
 
2014-04-15 07:48:01 AM  
the only time i've ever had a cubicle-type job was my short employment as a telemarketer, which was undoubtedly the worst and most soul-sucking job i've ever had.  every other job i've ever had has been in a factory running a machine, which has numerous benefits for those of you who think that kind of manual labor work is beneath them.  first of all i get lots of exercise at work.  secondly i work by myself and don't get bothered by annoying people, because we can't just walk away from our machines to chitchat.  thirdly, in my case anyway, i get to make a physical product and i get satisfaction at my job because i know that i built something tangible and real.  my job is alternately challenging and boring, which keeps things interesting.  i don't think i could ever work in an office cubicle job, it would drive me to depression.
 
2014-04-15 07:49:10 AM  
One of the worst management decisions I've had to out up with was when the company decided they needed to foster the "start-up mentality" by cramming a bunch of us (who still had fairly good sized cubes) into a conference room to work on ricketty folding tables. It'll be just like you're working out of somebody's garage!
 
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