Monday, March 13, 2006

Article: Cubicles, the Office Furniture of Pain

It's actually quite an interesting article:

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.

I hate my cube. But in the grand scheme of things, it is far better then the alternative - the open bullpen office. Maybe you've seen them in the Kafka-esque movies of the past - dozens of desks, in open rows with nothing in between them, where literally everyone can see exactly what you're doing at every moment. Shudder.

Now ideally, everyone would get an office. But realistically, its just not going to happen. I know plenty of highly educated, highly credentialed, senior employees - many of whom are managers, lawyers, and PhD's - who work in cubicles. I've observed that the only way to get your own office (and I've had one at previous jobs) is to:

1) Start your own business.
2) Work at a very small business/non-profit, where they pay you 30% less.
3) Donate lots of money to the Republican party and become a political appointee.
4) Build one from the bones of the poor and use their blood to lubricate your vast financial empire.

Note that only number two is mutually exclusive to the others.
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