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The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-09-2006, 05:26 PM   #1
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The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

Cubicles: The great mistake
Even the designer of the cubicle thinks they were maybe a bad idea, as millions of 'Dilberts' would agree.

By Julie Schlosser, FORTUNE Magazine
March 9, 2006

NEW YORK (FORTUNE Magazine) - Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.

Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales--$3 billion or so a year--and has outlived every "office of the future" meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture.


http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/09/maga...tune/index.htm

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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-09-2006, 08:03 PM   #2
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

One of the reasons Cubicles will not go away is the American for Disabilities Act. You see if you build walls that is considered a permanent change, and you have to put money into the ADA of the building. If you build cubicles it is not considered an upgrade thus no ADA thus cheaper.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 07:24 AM   #3
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

When I first worked at my firm, your secretary would have her desk right outside your door. Combination gatekeeper and jailer.

Both our lawyers and secretaries were happy when the secretaries moved to cubes.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 11:07 AM   #4
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

A giant nerf gun worked for me. Plus our cubes were on a dead end and my admin was in the first cube at the end and would see someone coming and call me.

Except for the time I shotsprayed the IT VP, thinking she was someone else..
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 11:19 AM   #5
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

I live such a dilbert life. My cube is 8' by 8', and I was unlucky enough to get assigned one with a pole in it, so my entryway is 6 inches narrower. I have two computers in my cube and a VOIP phone. Color scheme of the cloth walls is sanitarium tan. My attempts to brighten up my cube include pictures of the family, my taling eeyor, my talking Stimpy doll (you pull his hairball and he says, "happy happy, joy joy!"), my monsters inc. action figure, and of course, Darth Tater. Thank God for music.

I much prefered my former works set up, where 2-3 people would share an office.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 11:36 AM   #6
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

We have had (thankfully rare) orders to clear our cubicles of all personal material, including pictures of kids, toys, etc., usually when visiting dignitaries are getting tours. Down come the Christmas lights, weird alters, collages made of book covers (we're library folk), toy collections, etc.

The last time, several years ago, I took down all of my personal stuff but found and photocopied several pictures of our director and distributed them to people in my office. So when the director came by with the VIPs, everyone had a picture of him prominently displayed in their otherwise sterile and anonymous cubbies. When I returned to work the next day, I found the director had autographed my picture.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 11:42 AM   #7
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

It couldnt be worse. Shortly before I left my old job, they were experimenting with "open office concepts". They basically cut your cube in half, took away the exterior wall, halved the length of the 'separating walls', and added some 'utility areas' like a small conference area. You could opt for a "stand up desk" which was a 3'x2' panel attached to the wall for your laptop...in that case you got to have a tiny little desk and chair to use below that. The whole thing was pale blue. About 2 months into "trial testing" the people in that area organized and threatened to transfer or quit if their old cubicles werent reinstated.

Pretty cool way to get people to quit whining about cubes.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 01:09 PM   #8
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tawny Dangle

The last time, several years ago, I took down all of my personal stuff but found and photocopied several pictures of our director and distributed them to people in my office. So when the director came by with the VIPs, everyone had a picture of him prominently displayed in their otherwise sterile and anonymous cubbies. When I returned to work the next day, I found the director had autographed my picture.
One of our paralegals is really good with photoshop. In her cube she has a made up group photo of a bunch of lawyers in our office as coneheads.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-10-2006, 02:36 PM   #9
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tawny Dangle
The last time, several years ago, I took down all of my personal stuff but found and photocopied several pictures of our director and distributed them to people in my office. So when the director came by with the VIPs, everyone had a picture of him prominently displayed in their otherwise sterile and anonymous cubbies. When I returned to work the next day, I found the director had autographed my picture.
Now that is Friday funny.

Wait a minute. Did the Director authograph the picture you had of him/her, or did the Director autograph a picture of YOU? If the latter, I'm even more impressed.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-11-2006, 09:46 AM   #10
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

I was lucky enough to go from 2 in an office (real walls and door) to private office (20 years ago) when we convinced management that as we moved from doing work in the lab to doing it all on the computer that the offices should be considered in the total space allowed per employee. Then as they started moving the rest of the company to cubes we kept pushing back and they grandfathered us in. The last few years when an office freed up it was usually converted to a double. When I ERed my boss moved into my office because it was bigger than his. He did it without proper permissions, and they told him he didn't have the proper rank in the company for that big an office and he would have to move back or have a second person move in. They finally solved the problem by promoting him.

They did get one small area in the building converted to cubes. I walked in to the area about 6 months after it was fully occupied. It was very quiet, then I noticed there were very few people. I asked what was going on and found out that 80% or more of the people started telecommuting when they were forced into cubes. Management declared it a success because there were very few complaints, and the cube dwellers were happy to shorten their commute most days. I figure it is only a matter of time till they revoke our grandfather clause. Happy to say I avoided cubes my whole work life.

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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-11-2006, 10:39 AM   #11
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

I haven't lived in a cube in about 15 years. Oddly enough, I remember feeling more connected to my coworkers (in a good way) when I was in a cube than when I wasn't. Not that I would want to go back...

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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-11-2006, 10:53 AM   #12
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

Some great cube stories!

I remember most the gopher effect--one person would pop up above the cubicle to ask something and then someone would pop up to ask them and then others would pop up to see what was going on.

The last company i worked for some of us had offices (i did thankfully) and some had cubes but even with a smallish office and that open concept people would communicate via MSN messenger which seemed pretty damn odd to me to communicate with someone 25 feet away from you.
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...
Old 03-11-2006, 10:54 AM   #13
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Re: The Fidel Castro of Office Furniture...

Prairie dog!
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