Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Survive in a Tiny Workspace, The Cubicle

Posted by Courtney Daniels

Photo via Archie4oz

Today we will delve into The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Work, to find the solution to a common problem for anyone who has ever been an assistant. The cubicle.

1. Select a good location: Opt for a cube away from main hallways, bathrooms, supply rooms, and other high-traffic areas, if you have the choice. Avoid cubes within the boss’s line of sight.

2. Use comfort devices: Requisition a more comfortable chair, or select one from an empty cubicle or office (some styles of chairs may be assigned to employees above a certain level, so be careful about what you borrow). Alternatively, obtain a doctor’s note stating that you require a comfortable chair for medical reasons—your employer will be obligated to provide you with one. A back pillow and footrest will also make cube life more comfortable and relaxed. Do not attempt to fit in recliners, love seats, or hammocks.

3. Install convenience items: A wireless telephone headset will give you increased freedom of movement. Noise-cancelling headphones (with an extra-long cord) will eliminate outside distractions. A small fan is effective in filtering out annoying noises such as typing and phone conversations. (The fan will also make it more difficult for co-workers to eavesdrop on your conversations.) Small refrigerators, hair dryers, televisions, VCRs, and blenders should not be easily visible.

4. Personalize your space: Decorate your cubicle with your family photographs and drawings, as well as other pictures and cartoons you like, giving your cube a homey touch. Avoid hanging too many items or you risk a cubicle that looks like a dorm room or refrigerator door.

5. Build upward: There is usually no limit to the amount of vertical space you can occupy. Stack in/out trays high atop elevated surfaces for additional room. Staplers, tape dispensers, card files, and other items that traditionally occupy valuable space on top of a desk can be suspended from the ceiling to create a more spacious environment below.

6. Use mirrors: Hang a large mirror on the cubicle wall to create the illusion of spaciousness.

Be Aware

• Health and safety codes dictate that cubes may not have roofs. Do not attempt to construct a fully enclosed cubicle for privacy.

• Adding a small, stick-on, wide-angle mirror to the edge of your monitor allows you to see if someone is peering into your cubicle from behind.

• Notify your supervisor that you would like to sit in a “double-wide” cubicle if one becomes available. Standard cubes are 8 by 8 feet and 4 to 6 feet high—double-wides offer twice the floor space of standard units, plus an L- or U-shaped desk. The double-wide cubicle does carry some risk: If office space gets tight, you may find yourself with a cube-mate, a particularly undesirable situation.