A recent study shows that the average office cubicle has shrunk, compared to its size from the 90s. The average office cubicle worker enjoys about 17% less cubicle space than his equivalent from 1994, who had a glorious 90 square feet of space to work in, compared to today’s measly 75 square feet.
The same study, published by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), finds that most cubicles have shrunk from 8×10 to about 5×5. (Check out this article from the Chicago Tribune to see exactly how much space has been trimmed out from under us!)
The Score: Cost Cutting 1, Office Cubicle Space 0
Where’d our spacious office cubicles go? Part of the blame for their disappearance goes to our tottering economy – soaring rents, among other rising overhead costs, are behind the push to cram more workers into smaller spaces. After all, real estate costs are known to be amongst the largest cost for businesses, after the payroll.
“In recent years, we’ve seen how companies are trying to shed real estate cost,” says Shari Epstein, director of research at the IFMA. “When you have less space to work, you will try to cram as many people into one space.”
When permitted by H.R., Christmas decorations are a wonderful way to share the spirit of the season with the people whose company you share for the bulk of your day. Office cubicle denizens, given enough latitude, may go as far as this Toronto company does every year, with decorations that include an actual wood-burning stove. I assume the local fire department had to sign off on this, er, “unique” office cubicle Christmas decoration.
In Texas, companies like Mouser Electronics are encouraged to go all-out with their office cubicle holiday flair. Mouser, in particular, is tough to beat this year – their cubicles are brought together by one toy railroad track with a working train.
The train “actually makes sound and blows smoke,” says Sheryl Gaines, credit manager at Mouser. The railroad track runs across desks, connecting cubicles and curving around computer keyboards. The snow is made from cotton; small ponds are formed from blue Saran Wrap, and the little houses and figurines are part of someone’s personal holiday collection. Tunnels for the train — well, sheets of black paper made to look like tunnel entrances — were added at the last minute, Gaines says.
Image courtesy of the Star Telegram.
Before undertaking any major Christmas decorating, check with your H.R. department if any such office cubicle bedazzling is acceptable. Christmas originated as a religious holiday – so garish holiday décor may unwittingly cause offense to others who do not share that faith. Danyelle Little of the Cubicle Chick recommends toning down.
“You will always have the one employee who goes a little too far with their decorations. You will also have the one employee who is offended by such a show of “religiousness,” says Danyelle. “When in doubt, I say don’t decorate at all.”
If office regulations are too stringent for any serious office cubicle redecorating, you might try just changing your desktop. Luckily, Microsoft came out with a Holiday Lights Windows 7 theme for just that instance.
If the rules permit, and everybody gets to deck out their own office cubicle spaces for the holidays, whoopee for you, and have fun. But remember, unless the office imposes a Christmas theme from above, the results will probably be a mixed bag.
You won’t always get the results you want – after all, it’s rare you get everybody to sign off on a single office cubicle Christmas theme. Leave it to big bosses, and VIPs so important they can do whatever the hell they please to their office cubicle, to dream big. Take late night host Conan O’Brien, who launched his improbably-decorated set last week:
From all of us at Cubicles.com, Happy Holidays, everyone, and a Happy New Year!
The office cubicle is only a stepping stone to a bigger office, the thinking goes. Senior officers shouldn’t be put in an ordinary office cubicle, they should be put in an office of their own! One with real hardwood office furniture and not the usual particleboard crap of the hoi polloi!
The corner office, though, is more and more becoming a thing of the past. Real power can reside from a corner office cubicle, not an oak-panelled corner office.
Hizzoner Works from an Office Cubicle
Consider the mayor of New York City. Michael Bloomberg got rid of private offices and settled on an open office cubicle design that mimicked a Wall Street trading floor. “Walls are barriers,” Bloomberg told Time Magazine, “and my job is to remove them.”
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