Surviving the Cubicle
Being stuck in a partitioned box is not exactly how someone likes to spend their waking hours five days a week, no matter how much they love their job. Watching the same corporate zombies work, banter and play bumper cars with their swivel chairs all day can be overwhelming - even more so if it's your first job. The sudden transition into the cubicle environment might seem intrusive and often a good enough excuse to drop out of a 9 to 5 job with a vision of becoming the world's next big entrepreneur. But that doesn't always work out, does it? So here are some tidbits on how to survive the “cubicapocalypse”.
MARK YOUR TERRITORY
You might be given an area less than 60 square feet but no matter how small it is, it is yours. You can decorate it however you want. Add a lamp so that even under the fluorescents and the loud noises around, you can have the homely warmth that you appreciate so much. Choose a colour scheme, stick some artworks, get lots of bright and colourful stationary and office supplies and maybe even get a comfy throw pillow for your chair. Washi tapes are available almost everywhere nowadays and you can use them to trim out your desk, your cupboards and almost everything in between to add that personalised edge. Lastly, go all in with photographs of your favourite people, places, things, pets and even postcards that can get your creative juices flowing in. Personalise the whole space in a way that it smells, breathes and looks like you.
Okay, that subtitle does not look as good as it did in my head but you get my point. Make friends around your sitting area so that when you forget to bring your lunch, you can borrow it from them. It's easy to avoid everything around you by putting on the headphones like you always do but when you're working in a space where you are having to elbow-bump the person sitting beside you almost 24/7, it's good to befriend that person. It might be that they will rant to you about how the last episode of their favourite TV show was super disappointing but in return, you will find one source of entertainment and possibly a good confidante in your super boring cubicle life.
BE LOWKEY JIM HALPERT
This paragraph is solely inspired by the wonderful Jim Halpert from the US-version of The Office. If you have watched the show, you might be familiar with how Jim used to pull pranks on his co-worker Dwight. A classic prank would be to put your co-worker's stapler or other stationery in Jell-O to cause them minor inconveniences. There's also the “Wrap Your Co-Worker's Desk” prank where you can attempt to wrap everything that belongs to your co-worker with festive paper. But do remember, although these pranks will obviously add colour to your black and white life, they might set the office on fire or worse, get you fired. So proceed with caution and remember not to offend or hurt someone.
Once you have everything you need to decorate your cubicle, you might want to get these must-have tools that will hopefully help you hold on to your sanity. The first one has to be noise-cancelling headphones so that when the person sitting next to you is screaming on the phone, you can put those headphones on and concentrate on your work. Get a desk fan because why not? And although everyone has their own office supplies, you might want to keep an extra kit with you so that when someone loses your favourite red stapler, you have a backup. Also try to keep a can of pepper spray because you might be working late and there might be an awful person lurking around.
Humans are horrible and that is why, sitting in a space that is designed for two people but houses nine will leave you with no privacy at all. Someone is always humming, smacking, sighing, listening to Katy Perry on their iPod, talking loudly to a customer on phone, giggling, nagging and it seems like everything's happening right by your ear. Just as you start talking to the co-worker sitting next to you about something as private as your bowel routine, someone else butts in and takes the floor. As annoying as these situations can be, most people working in cubicles around you face the same. So instead of being the employee that complains about everything, try not to do the things that other people do to annoy you. Don't sneak on others, and don't gossip about your boss or anyone in the office - snakes are everywhere, kids. And one thing that really bothers me is when people bring smelly snacks in the cubicle. The place is already congested; you having a smelly fish for lunch will make it worse for everyone in the box.
Cubicles aren't the best places in the world but it won't be half as bad as you think if you follow the right rules.
Mashiat Lamisa believes in unicorns, flashlights and everything nice. Prove her wrong at firstname.lastname@example.org