The Corner Office Cubicle as an Executive Perk.

Posted by: Mitchell H. Kirsch 1 comments

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.”

A 2007 renovation upgraded the bullpen, adding a sweet flatscreen TV to the mix:

A new state-of-the-art, 103-inch plasma television […], which was donated by Panasonic, will be used to monitor 311 call-center statistics, traffic, and breaking news. According to the manufacturer, it sells for $70,000.

A Corner Office Cubicle for a CEO?

Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, started the trend of putting top executives in an office cubicle setup (beginning with himself). His own workspace in Intel was a small corner office cubicle, with only a window view as a sop to his position as master of Intel.

Grove encouraged the open-office cubicle environment (beginning with assigning himself to an eight-by-nine office cubicle) to strengthen a corporate culture that still exists today: one that encourages open and honest communication from the bottom to the top.

Asked whether [his office cubicle is] adequate for his needs as CEO, Grove replies, "Absolutely. . . . I need a conference room for private meetings, but most of the time I can read, work at my computer, or have phone conversations very nicely in my office -- even if Pam [Pam Pollace, Intel’s then-vice president for worldwide press relations, Grove’s office cubicle neighbor] often does overhear me."

[…] Senior Vice President Ron Whittier observes that Grove fosters open communication by encouraging staffers and others to say what's on their minds. "People here aren't afraid to speak up and debate with Andy," he notes.

Grove and Bloomberg get several key benefits from implementing an open office cubicle design for their top officers.

Egalitarianism – it improves morale to see the boss doing what everybody else is doing, down to working from an office cubicle like the rest of the workforce.

Accessibility – the boss can be easily seen by his people from his office cubicle, and his colleagues have less fear to ask him questions or approach him if he’s working from an office cubicle, instead of a corner office with a secretary standing guard.

Access to Information – because the office cubicle leaves him un-insulated from the back-and-forth in the office, the boss can find out what’s going on in the office without having that information filter in from his secretary.

Nov 30, 2012
9:35 am
#1 Marianne :

I do think it’s very true that having a cubicle design can break down barriers and transform how a business communicates.

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