Friday, December 14, 2012

Cubicle Hacking 101

Welcome to the cube farm; pictured is my office, at least a small part of it.

I - like many of my fellow paper farmers - have been allotted an internal plot of carpet with no direct access to natural light. While paper doesn't necessarily need light to flourish, paper farmers do, at least this one.

Building a solid base

After nurturing a good relationship with the bureaucrat on the other side of the divide from me, we agreed to remove the middle panel from our cubicle walls. The result was a window into the world of natural light, a sharp increase in serendipitous and humanizing contact with others, and a dramatic improvement to our collective moral.

Positive spillover effects

It worked so well, when someone else joined the team she immediately opted to install her own window; meaning that I now have two windows that connect me directly into my colleagues' offices.

We often lament the fact that the culture writ large is hard to change (see Eat or be Eaten), but the truth is that we exert a tremendous amount of control over it in the areas immediately around us (see On Fearless Advice and Loyal Implementation). Taking advantage of this fact creates a number of positive spillover opportunities. For example, every single person who has come into our space since we added the windows has commented on them and/or asked us about them; each conversation is a perfect opportunity to shift the yard sticks a little.

Installing a couple of makeshift windows isn't the radical approach that will change the office culture in a day (see How You Could Change Your Office Culture in One Day, and Why You Will Never Do It), but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Do you have any interesting cubicle hacks that help round the square corners of your office culture? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

Originally published by Nick Charney at
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