Posted tagged ‘cubicles’

Pushpins for everyone!

March 6, 2009

A trusted colleague of mine, who claims because he gave me this idea that I now owe him beer, and I were having an IM conversation this week about working remotely, etc. And that got me thinking…
So I looked up the definition of collaboration, specifically to find words that have the opposite meaning. And there were some good ones. Tops in my book were competition and coercion. Good job, WikiAnswers!! But they missed an important one, quite meaningful in these modern times. Cubicle.
Here’s what cubicle says to me, especially if:
a) not everyone has one
b) they vary in size depending on your alleged importance to an organization
c) location matters (like a window view, less traffic past it, etc.)
if you’re a manager, it says:
a) I only trust you if I can see you and potentially hear what you are doing
b) I can’t think of a better way to arrange our limited space
c) I need a door for the important work that I do, but you don’t
d) I will feel you are at your most productive, regardless of task, if I wall you off from your co-workers
if you’re a cubicle-ite, it says:
a) leave me alone, I am busy
b) if I can’t see you, maybe you don’t exist
c) every conversation we have, whether work related or not, is fodder for other listeners or to add to the perception that I am a slacker
d) I am valued based on real estate measured in very small square-foot increments
Don’t get me wrong – there may very well be valid reasons to arrange work space in a series of small, semi-personalized compartments. I can actually think of a few. But this post is targeted more toward consulting and software companies that spend lots of money in rent, furniture, and push pins. I would advise them, if at all possible, to leave the 90’s behind and recognize the following:
a) There are never enough conference rooms. Ever wonder why?? Because that’s where people collaborate – something they desperately want to do WHEN THEY ARE TOGETHER.
b) Almost everyone does their best non-collaborative work ALONE. That’s OK.
c) If you had the processes in place to genuinely measure the relative worth and productivity of your staff, you wouldn’t need to be able to see them working to believe that they are, in fact, working.
So to sum up – if you are thinking about working for a consulting company and they proudly parade you past their lines of cubicles, attempting to impress you with the size of their staff (please, no bad jokes here) run like the wind. Like Cheers and Seinfeld, they probably had a good run in the 90’s but eventually they too will be cancelled…

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