When the entire world cubicleized everyone complained.
They’re too restricting. They prevent or retard communication in the office. There’s no room for your stuff. It’s like elementary school. It’s like jail. It’s lonely. It’s claustrophobia inducing. It’s impersonal.
All of that was true 20, 30 years ago and remains mostly true today. But we’ve become accustomed to our cubicles and learned to love our cells, or at least to tolerate them.
Now, when you lose your job or retire, you pack your belongings in a banker’s box or two and take them home. Unless of course you’re one of those. “Those” are the kind that are called away from their cubicle into Personnel (Human Resources if you must, Inhumane resources if you choose) and then fired, met by one or two beefy security guys with poker faces and cheap suits and escorted from the building without returning to your desk.
In that case, your co-workers will be packing your stuff and shipping it to you. And you’d better hope there’s nothing incriminating or embarrassing in that desk. Like a bottle of bourbon or six months of “Hustler” magazine or the boss’ computer password.
In any event, at some point you will lose your cubicle. And you will have your work stuff at home and you will try to make a private space.
You will find it less confining, less constricting, less claustrophobic, roomier and less prison like than third grade.
You’ll probably find that claustrophobia has turned into coziness, that lack of space has made you more efficient and that you miss Miss Mazola, your third grade teacher.
You will miss the privacy that the cubicle walls afforded. People will just walk in on your home office and hang out. Spouses, children, dogs, cats, parakeets.
You will feel like a stranger in your own room. And/or a traffic cop.
What you’ll want to do is build or have built your own home cubicle. It will bring you familiarity and privacy.
The good news: cubicle stuff is cheap. If it weren’t, corporate America wouldn’t be building them by the acre. You’ll probably be able to buy what you need for less than the amount of your first unemployment comp check.
And building one is easy. If it weren’t, corporate America wouldn’t be building them by the acre. Once home, you probably won’t spend more than lunchtime putting it together, even if you’re a klutz and even if the directions from Ikea are in 16th century Swedish.
You can pin pictures of your kids on the wall and hope that they ward off visits from your actual kids. You can write on your whiteboard just as in the good old days when you were leader of the supply chain team at Trans Galactic Insurance. (If there IS a company of that name, we are unaware of it and unable to find it.)
While your work cubicle may have been your home away from home, your home cubicle will be your home within your home.
Now, aren’t you feeling better already?
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2013