Office Cubicles — Are The Necessary? Are They Effective?

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The office cubicle of today is a sad reminder of the fact that office space is costly. The “floor space index” per employee seems to be shrinking day by day in an office. The Office furnishing experts seem to come out novel ideas every day to make two people sit “with a semblance of privacy” in a space where one person used to sit a while ago.

Present day office cubicle sadly has become somewhat like the urinal  in a men’s rest room! Except for a brief area of the body made invisible to each other, each person in a urinal can see most of the goings on and know pretty well all the shuffling and shaking, sound and smell associated with the process of physical relief the other adjacent person is undergoing!

Unfortunately, the present day office cubicle almost has a similar scenario. The so called privacy offered by the cubicle has a very limited scope indeed. For males, who are by nature very disorganized and undisciplined when it comes to the up-keep of the work space, the tendency is to make the workspace a virtual junk yard of papers! The present day cubicles have every potential to invite rodents to safely come and reside inside the office.

People keep office files, lose papers, CDs, memos, pen drives, cell phone, Tiffin box, office stationery, reference books, memo pads, novels, ipad, ipod, hand kerchief, pen,  pencil, pizza pack, brochures, anything and everything  loosely strewn around the limited table space left free after the customary table top residents, namely computer monitor, key board and mouse pad. When the boss asks for an important paper, the employees shuffle around all of them and the amount of time wasted in the “searching process”, if estimated in an unbiased survey may work out to one- forth of the working hours of the employees!

It may not be out of place here to observe that in the attempt to shrink the space to accommodate more people, even simple needs of ergonomics are thrown to the wind. One of the customers I frequently meet on business got promoted  and he was given a private cubicle, with fully closed doors and glass walls all around. The carpenters from the Interior decorator office were smart enough to modify the table and related furniture out of his old non-private cubicle and construct the new one.

When I go and sit in front of his table that has a very limited width across the table, I am simply left with no leg space, because, the front face of the table at my side is covered, knocking at my knees. In the original design, he was sitting facing the wall and the table was designed to provide leg space just for him! When I go and sit in front of him now, I have no option but to sit somewhat away from the table edge and by spreading my legs wider.

When I pointed out this inconvenience to my customer, he could only offer a sheepish smile. The reason is simple. If you provide a wider table to allow leg space for him as well as the visitor to sit and face him, the cubicle unfortunately will not have space to put the chairs for the visitor to sit in front of him. The glass wall cannot be moved away. You see, the cubicle of the next executive is just on the other side of the glass wall!


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