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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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5932 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Apr 2014 at 5:35 AM (35 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-15 07:49:17 AM  

Burr: 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.


I'm totally a team player. As long as i'm being paid to be a member of the team. I do like what I do, and I get to play with neat toys that are worth millions, but I have no illusions and no loyalty beyond that which is purchased. Hmm, I think corporate America is breeding a generation of sociopaths.
 
2014-04-15 07:50:08 AM  
the irony is cubicles were made to give people privacy, but they're more miserable than if everybody sat out in the open with no privacy at all

i'm not sure how that works as i've never had privacy at any job, rarely get any chance to slack off so i just keep focused because what else is there to do?
 
2014-04-15 07:50:49 AM  

jtown: 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.


I work for a large (really large) global technology and media company. We have an open floor plan. The only way it works for me is if EVERYBODY is on the floor. No offices at all.
 
2014-04-15 07:52:15 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 first
 
GBB
2014-04-15 07:55:34 AM  

kqc7011: Here is a picture of my leg and foot while working.
Office work, blarghhh.[img.fark.net image 850x637]


Aw hell no.
 
GBB
2014-04-15 07:57:47 AM  

Guuberre: 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


Heh, reminds me of the time I walked into the break room and let one rip as loud as I could without sharting.
 
2014-04-15 07:57:50 AM  

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

Why quietly? Is she ugly?


Quiet sobbing is ok, but the full on waterworks can be a buzzkill
 
2014-04-15 08:00:11 AM  

SpacemanSpoof: 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.


And boy, were those managers thrilled to death to have to sit with the workers
 
2014-04-15 08:01:51 AM  

kqc7011: Here is a picture of my leg and foot while working.
Office work, blarghhh.


So you're in an open space environment?
 
2014-04-15 08:03:13 AM  
hmph.  I work in a cube.  I am not stifled, depressed, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Stupid blanket statements are stupid.

Imagine that.
 
2014-04-15 08:16:14 AM  

Satan's Bunny Slippers: hmph.  I work in a cube.  I am not stifled, depressed, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Stupid blanket statements are stupid.

Imagine that.


So if you were offered an office with a window you would refuse?  Or if you were offered a chance to work from home you would refuse?

You may not be stifled or depressed, but you're still one of the sheep.
 
2014-04-15 08:19:06 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.

Good God, man, do you know what you're asking for?

imgs.xkcd.com
 
2014-04-15 08:19:25 AM  

Satan's Bunny Slippers: hmph.  I work in a cube.  I am not stifled, depressed, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Stupid blanket statements are stupid.

Imagine that.


I agree with this sentiment.  I like my cube; it is quiet, roomy (some people have EZ chairs in their cubes), has a sliding closing door, we can configure our cubes any way we like (even removing walls if we desire) and I am very productive in there.  Some teams have organized their cubes into work areas by removing the walls between them but keeping their exterior walls.

If I want a conversation with a coworker I can walk to their cube and talk.  Also, in my company of 14k+ employees, there are no offices.  Executive VPs sit in cubes not too far from me.  There are windowless conference rooms of all sizes (3 - 30 people) that anyone can use (by drop-in or reservation) for private or confidential conversations.
 
2014-04-15 08:19:45 AM  
Flexible office space seems to be the way of the future.  Galaxo just built a new headquarters here (claiming that they had so many employees now working from home that they didn't need the space in their old headquarters, but really it was a huge tax dodge) and they have it setup that their employees can work from anywhere in the building, including their vast and very nice atrium.
 
2014-04-15 08:24:41 AM  
I work in a cube farm because I've worked in retail and construction.  Can't say I'd ever want to go back.

I get paid good money and it's a job I love.  I see no downside to this, except maybe the crop dusters.
 
2014-04-15 08:26:23 AM  

PainInTheASP: I work in a cube farm because I've worked in retail and construction.  Can't say I'd ever want to go back.

I get paid good money and it's a job I love.  I see no downside to this, except maybe the crop dusters.


Same here. Took my first office job at 45 and it is like being retired.
Of course, I can't afford retirement, but then again, my chances of being injured in an industrial accident went down about 99%.
 
2014-04-15 08:26:45 AM  
At the last place I worked, we narrowly escaped the big, open plan thing with no set desks and lots of "touch down stations" as they liked to envision them. That got scrapped, but we still ended up with a large low-profile cube farm. Some director must have read some wishy-washy academic paper about collaboration in an open environment and just ran with it.

Ironically, I think it had the reverse effect, but that could just be the staff there. People didn't really talk much to begin with. Forcing them all to be right on top of each other sure wasn't going to make it better.
 
2014-04-15 08:26:49 AM  

Prank Call of Cthulhu: 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.


Wow, isn't it just terrible when the company listens to you and cares about your happiness?
 
2014-04-15 08:28:56 AM  

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

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


Ever seen the movie, The Apartment? I'd recommend it. It was Mad Men, the movie.
 
2014-04-15 08:38:23 AM  

stratagos: kqc7011: Here is a picture of my leg and foot while working.
Office work, blarghhh.

So you're in an open space environment?


Free range worker. Nice!
 
2014-04-15 08:41:32 AM  

AdamK: the irony is cubicles were made to give people privacy, but they're more miserable than if everybody sat out in the open with no privacy at all



I worked in an open office environment for a while and it was pretty miserable. Supervisors constantly lurking over your sholder seeing what you are doing on your computer, berating you if you have a non-work related website open (or even questioning how a site is work related if you are there for work reserching something). Even slouching in your chair was considered "unprofessional" and could get you a counseling session. The term "run in place" was common because if you ever gave the impression that you were not working, even to strech for a couple seconds after hours of straight working, then the supervisor would stop by and either grill you on what you have been doing or find something for you to do regardless of what you are working on.

I recently volunteered to be lent out to another group in the company temporarily to assist them on their project, and they have cubes and a supervisor that assignes you a job and leaves you alone to get it done. Sure, i am on a main row near a break room that has lots of people walking by, but during my time here i have not had a single person berate me (with one exception when one of my old supervisors decided to stop by and saw me slouching in my cube). Even though my work load is much greater here than my other job, my stress level is lower and productivity is higher (even with me stopping by Fark).

tl;dr: It is less cubes vs. open office and more how supervisors handle their people
 
2014-04-15 08:47:01 AM  

stratagos: SpacemanSpoof: 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.

And boy, were those managers thrilled to death to have to sit with the workers


I work off the main site so I have a really nice office while my director has a cubicle on the main site.

Yay for personal offices. Besides they don't want me ranting and taunting my computer to dare not work in a more public scene.
 
2014-04-15 08:50:36 AM  
Nikil Saval hs a pretty good publicist, since this book advert has been hawed to at least four different online media outlets over the last 48 hours.
 
2014-04-15 08:51:15 AM  

stuartp9: Satan's Bunny Slippers: hmph.  I work in a cube.  I am not stifled, depressed, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Stupid blanket statements are stupid.

Imagine that.

So if you were offered an office with a window you would refuse?  Or if you were offered a chance to work from home you would refuse?

You may not be stifled or depressed, but you're still one of the sheep.


Who said I didn't have a window?  I have a window.  It's right *here*, I can just reach out and touch it.

I've had offices with two windows.  And doors.  I'm not missing anything.

Nice try though.
 
2014-04-15 08:53:24 AM  

Typhoid: Prank Call of Cthulhu: 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.

Wow, isn't it just terrible when the company listens to you and cares about your happiness?


We expressed a desire for private offices on a windowline and got shared offices on a windowline, and they reduced the office size by 40%, and that's the company listening? Dang, I'd hate to see what happens when they don't pay attention.
 
2014-04-15 08:55:46 AM  
I recently changed jobs from where I had an office (with a window to boot), to one where I'm in a cubical farm.  I really miss the office when there's constant chatter going on around me, and the people moving outside my cube 'door' constantly distracts me.  There's talk about getting some sort of sliding doors for the cubes to give us a little more privacy, but no ETA on that.

First thing I did was to shift my monitors so my back wasn't to the cube opening.  Absolutely can not stand having people sneak up on me like that.
 
2014-04-15 08:58:18 AM  

stuartp9: Satan's Bunny Slippers: hmph.  I work in a cube.  I am not stifled, depressed, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Stupid blanket statements are stupid.

Imagine that.

So if you were offered an office with a window you would refuse?  Or if you were offered a chance to work from home you would refuse?

You may not be stifled or depressed, but you're still one of the sheep.


Oh, and it's cute you think calling people sheep is.....I don't know what you try to achieve with that.

Adults aren't all that easily insulted by it.
 
2014-04-15 09:00:52 AM  

Deep Contact: stratagos: kqc7011: Here is a picture of my leg and foot while working.
Office work, blarghhh.

So you're in an open space environment?

Free range worker. Nice!


The Walmart greeter is kind of a free-range worker
 
2014-04-15 09:01:08 AM  
Cube life is all about who you're commiserating working with. I've had the good fortune of some awesome coworkers at my current job, including this one for the past five years, directly behind me:

img.fark.net

/April Fool's prank on coworker by their sibling
//his reign will end in a couple weeks, sob
///but telecommuting is on the horizon
 
2014-04-15 09:03:05 AM  
or you know, maybe get a job that doesnt require working in a miserable office.  the pay may not be there but for christs sake you are not working in the office.  and working in retail is not the only option btw.

/jus saying
 
2014-04-15 09:10:38 AM  
I have a cube with a window. I don't mind it so much, except in the winter, when it can be far too cold. My job is annoying as hell, but it has little to do with the cube. An office wouldn't help much. And a huge no thanks to working at home more than once a week. My marriage won't survive more than that.
 
2014-04-15 09:10:41 AM  
As a chef, the conditions I work under are often grueling. On my feet for hours on end, with fire, sharp objects, lifting heavy sh*t, lugging around heavy sh*t, occasionally dealing with hazardous chemicals, with a fair amount of stress, time constraints, and a waitstaff that sometimes seems as if they have been specifically trained to frustrate smooth operations, and sometimes for owners who have little to know actual knowledge of how their businesses should operate, and fielding fire between their expectations and the nuts and bolts of the day to day running.

This being said: my least favorite thing in this sort of job is the office scut work. It's important, and I have a real office, with a door, and it's not a cubicle, and a bottle of bourbon is seen as not just normal, it's an essential privilege of the position. Time in the office is time that I'm not in the kitchen. It's time that I'm not cooking. It's absolutely necessary--someone has to do the ordering, field calls to distributors, maintenance, papers, and with new hires and the like--not to mention actually assemble the reports so that I can see where money is going with labor and food costs, so that I can actually manage the damn place so that it runs correctly, and with a profit. It's mounded with a sh*t ton of purchase orders, with invoices, a board with numbers plastered upon it so that I can quickly call folks, schedules and events, and a lot of those just wind up in file cabinets so that I can call them up later if I have to defend expenses, or just do some forensics to see what might have happened months down the line. And I despise that office. After working in a kitchen, with all the smells and aromas, and the open space, it's like getting stuck in a closet to do work that no one likes. Even if that work is important. Like coming up with new menus, pulling together figures that illustrate exactly what we're doing--and the bang up job that my crew has done--or comparing and contrasting new products or equipment to see if we can shave some bucks down the line. It's part of the job, but even a pretty office with wood paneling or gleaming white, it will still be an office.

The only office time that I enjoyed was at the Iron Horse. There, we had desks in our dry storage area, and it was IN the space I needed to be in. I would come in early sometimes to write, and it was only comfortable, because it was sort of makeshift, with a crappy couch scavenged from upstairs, but it was right, because it reflected the needs of the restaurant and club, and reminded me exactly what I was doing, and why. An office? That's shoving me into a room that removes me from the operations and is foreign to the work and the craft. I'd rather be put downstairs with a desk just a few yards from a walk in, and able to hear the groans of the pipes and the hum of the refrigeration, because while I'm doing the scut work, I can absorb what I need to concentrate on. Down in that sh*tty office at the Horse, I caught a lot of maintenance issues because the sounds changed. The temperature was off. There were little signs of something being off, and I could catch that while I was poring over spreadsheets and invoices. Offices make me skeevy...
 
2014-04-15 09:10:43 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.


Once they do, the more aggressive, more driven and charismatic sheep will become the new leaders until "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. "
 
2014-04-15 09:13:10 AM  

abhorrent1: Willingly and out of necessity are not the same.


Shh don't tell the porn fanatics that you'll ruin it.
 
2014-04-15 09:14:08 AM  
Management understands fark-all about architecture or design.  Our building was designed and built with a roomy and tasteful client reception area, floor to ceiling windows on one end to let in the light and let the cube farmers or passing workers know what the weather was like outside, couches and short tables...    and some manager had workmen wall the entire area off and turn it into  a private office and conference room, so he could have that window all to himself.  You constantly hear manages that don't understand or appreciate the idea of "white space" in a visual composition, or the balance of space to mass in a building. They all want to "fill in that wasted space".
 
2014-04-15 09:14:54 AM  
you know what they say - "Do what you love"

And if that doesn't pay the bills, take lots of anti-depressants and keep repeating to yourself "I love what I do".
 
2014-04-15 09:17:33 AM  
A few years back I changed jobs and traded a window office for an interior windowless office. I don't miss the windows, but I probably wouldn't turn one down if offered. The cube farm denizens outside my door seem more affected by crazy middle managers than by the cube walls. I have a relatively unique set of skills that lets me work my kick ass job without a middle manager, and mostly without subordinates. I wouldn't trade that for all the window offices anywhere.
 
2014-04-15 09:20:11 AM  
two words: direct deposit

(that's why)
 
kab
2014-04-15 09:24:07 AM  

kqc7011: Here is a picture of my leg and foot while working.
Office work, blarghhh.[img.fark.net image 850x637]


I'll stick to the cubicle, thanks :)
 
2014-04-15 09:32:38 AM  
Don't worry about cubicles. You are losing them, too.

Welcome to 'benching'

corovan.com

More asses in less floor space. Thats all that matters.
 
2014-04-15 09:34:38 AM  

Lapdance: 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.


You could set the building on fire.
 
2014-04-15 09:35:59 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.


Yeah, I'm totally here for the money.  Why the hell else would I be here.  "Loving your job" is upper-middle class BS.
 
2014-04-15 09:36:09 AM  
I like working in my cube because I find happiness in the fact that I am providing for my family. Also, I like nice things and they cost money. I have often thought of trying to start my own business and "be my own boss" but that usually requires even more hours in a week. I just shrug and figure other people must be geniuses to scoff at a life of working since they have figured life out without doing it. Enjoy huffing your own farts guys.
 
2014-04-15 09:36:45 AM  

stuartp9: Or if you were offered a chance to work from home you would refuse?


I work from home one day a week.  If it wasn't for the fact that I get to do all my laundry, I wouldn't do it.  It's seriously boring.
 
2014-04-15 09:37:40 AM  

PainInTheASP: I work in a cube farm because I've worked in retail and construction.  Can't say I'd ever want to go back.

I get paid good money and it's a job I love.  I see no downside to this, except maybe the crop dusters.


That.  After working in a shop doing custom paint jobs and moonlighting as a repo agent popping trucks for a few years, 8-5 in a cube starts looking mighty fine.
 
2014-04-15 09:38:40 AM  

Burr: 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).



Sounds like the "IT department" doesn't like you and has the boss's ear.

serial_crusher: 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!


What in the hell is wrong with some of these people?  That is the product of a truly and lamentably stupid mind.
 
2014-04-15 09:40:03 AM  
Back in the 90's I worked for a SW dev company that decided to do away with the cubes and everyone worked out in the open on long tables and had work centers.

Wow. What a cluster fark. People started to get very very very possesive of thier space, some marking thier area of the work stations off with masking tape, others building "walls" with bulletin and white boards, stakcing things up to create boundries. There where open yelling matches between folks about "encrouching" on thier space, knowcking people's stuff off thier area's. Getting upset about how some people decorated thier space. It was farking sureal.
 
2014-04-15 09:41:24 AM  

tricycleracer: stuartp9: Or if you were offered a chance to work from home you would refuse?

I work from home one day a week.  If it wasn't for the fact that I get to do all my laundry, I wouldn't do it.  It's seriously boring.


I worked out of my house for a about a year. Taking the commute out of my life was huge but it did get boring not having any in-person interaction. Some days I would take a few hours and go down the road to Starbucks and work there to brighten the day.
 
2014-04-15 09:44:38 AM  
Meh. i like cubicles.
id like an office a little better i guess.
 
2014-04-15 09:47:39 AM  

Danger Mouse: Back in the 90's I worked for a SW dev company that decided to do away with the cubes and everyone worked out in the open on long tables and had work centers.

Wow. What a cluster fark. People started to get very very very possesive of thier space, some marking thier area of the work stations off with masking tape, others building "walls" with bulletin and white boards, stakcing things up to create boundries. There where open yelling matches between folks about "encrouching" on thier space, knowcking people's stuff off thier area's. Getting upset about how some people decorated thier space. It was farking sureal.


theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com

That's ridiculous!
 
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