Ringing phones. Pinging IM. Loud conversations and sometimes even Background Music. How is anyone supposed to get work done in this place?
Good old Mr.Webster defines the word cubicle \ˈkyü-bi-kəl\
A small partitioned space; especially one with a desk used for work in an office; A sleeping compartment partitioned off from a large room
The second definition is interesting, I must admit 🙂
Today’s open offices are mostly distinguished by their high noise levels, lack of privacy and surfeit of both digital and human distractions. Apart from concentrating on meeting deadlines and getting by one’s day-to-day work, it becomes highly imperative to learn to tune out these distractions.
I still remember my first day at work. I was brought into the office and lo! Before me, stretched out like a sea of grey on a rainy day, were dozens of nondescript cubicles. They were interesting in an extraordinarily boring way(credits Eddie Izzard). Finding my way in this cubicle labyrinth seemed impossible post lunch and I wondered if I should have left bread crumbs like Hansel and Gretel.
A recurring scenario is loud personal conversation over speaker phone. There is always at least one love struck colleague who cannot stop talking to their partner every half hour. While the rest of the folks do appreciate the love that these two share, it doesn’t mandate them with a license to annoy others.
On the other hand, it is not uncommon for cube-mates, just a few inches away from each other, to call/email/text things they don’t want overheard. The walls do have ears my friends.
There is nothing more unnerving than casually turning away from your screen to find someone standing right behind you. Some people just creep in from behind without any greeting and just knock the wind out of your breath. On seeing your shocked expression, they would probably laugh it off and even if you tell them not to spring you like that, they hardly seem to register it. So much for candid communication!
Whenever you hear shuffling footsteps at the far end of the cubicle line, your brain quickly tries to analyze if it is the “peeper”. Do not get me wrong it is probably hard to resist a glance when you pass by someone’s cube. But that doesn’t give entail you the right to just keep staring long and hard to get a good look on what the person is working on.
The gossip network in cubicle life is faster than any known processor chip manufactured so far! Right from dinner plans to domestic disputes, everyone knows it all. No matter how much people cross their heart and swear that they wouldn’t breathe a word, news spreads like melting butter on hot toast.
Butter reminds me of two distinctive smells that permeate the entire office (thanks to the central air-conditioning) – perfume and feet. One man’s perfume is another man’s migraine. There are those who wear enough to knock out anyone within a 100 foot radius. Come rainy season, here follows the inevitable smell of feet. These literally set your nose on fire and even nose plugs are a far cry from any respite.
The panacea for most of the distractions is to just plug-in your headphones and just put some music on. That way, most of the background noise can be drowned and one can work in peace. One thing that I love is to decorate my cubicle. I can put up posters, some pictures and make it look a bit more cheerful (but again nothing over the top to call for extra attention)
There is one word, that shines like a bright sun in an eclipse, that possesses enough magical power to turn this gray canvas into a plethora of colors – CAKE. “Did someone say cake?” “Sweets/cake at xyz’s cubicle”. This information travels faster than light across the entire floor in a matter of minutes and you can hear footsteps all around like a carnival. Ah, food at desk, I can make it through another day in this labyrinth 😀