I have almost exclusively worked in environments that have “cubes”. As I mentally tick through my jobs, I can find one or two which honestly gave me an ‘office’ – that is, a room with four walls and a door. Otherwise, its been the cubicle farm.
Why this phenomena occurred, I won’t profess to know the answer, but somewhere along the line it made sense to corporate officials to build moveable, rebuild-able cubicle farms for their workers. It gives them the sense of privacy, albeit a modicum at best, and some sense of their own space.
However, it doesn’t create enough of a buffer for most people. Want to really get some work done and you need to concentrate? Good luck because the guy who sits on the other side of your “wall” uses a hands-free device for his conference calls and for some reason believes he has to shout to make everyone hear him. Or the woman who thinks work is her own private dating service. Or the one at the end of the row who plays his music so loud that every single person on the floor can hear it. Even those who detest his choice in musicians. Or the guy who clears his throat every 10 minutes like clockwork.
I have invested in noise cancelling headphones of the highest quality. Which, for the most part, does what I need it to. But – and yes, there is always a ‘but’- it gets tiresome to have to wear them. That constant pressure on your head does get annoying. And it also seemingly makes you anti-social. And on more than one occasion, I’ve been startled to a scream because I was so tuned into what I was working on and so turned out to everyone and everything around me that someone tapping me on the shoulder scared me! I have also missed a fire alarm!
It isn’t always bad, don’t get me wrong. One place I worked the cube walls were only as high as your line of site, so when you were sitting you weren’t constantly distracted by movement around you. But, it was low enough that it fostered communication and interaction with the people around you.
Good and bad, these cubicle farms provide different benefits and negatives. And there is no doubt that they are here to stay.
So, what do you do? Grin and bear it, I guess. And kvetch here, so that I can continue to work where ever it is that I am.
What’s been your experience? I’d love to hear all about it.