Hey wild things,
I’m curious how it came to be seen as normal for adult humans to be held captive in itty bitty work cubicles for eight+ hours a day. Do such bizarre conditions really promote workscapes conducive to thoughtful or innovative work?
So, I decided to look into the history of cubicles. Invented by Robert Propst in 1964, these human fattening bins turned fortysomething in 2010. Ironically, Mr. Propst never intended for them to be used to warehouse folks all day. He created them as part of a sleek, artsy “action office” that addressed the horrors of previous open office configurations, the kind where your bossed stared down at you all day from a glass office. It was angled with low partitions to provide some privacy but still had a feeling of openness. The chairs were ergonomically correct and tables adjustable for sitting or standing.
In the 80’s, the cubicle became more enclosed. Workers looked at high ugly tweed walls all day. Something akin to madness began to take place inside. Mr. Propst didn’t like his name being associated with the resulting cubicle. In fact he called them, “monolithic insanity.”
I started to go insane in my cubicle. Eventually, my design books and other items to keep me from losing it started to spill out into the hallway. Layoffs in my row enabled me to “bust” through the wall and obtain a “double-wide.” You can imagine the rumors that started circulating around that real estate acquisition. Although the new space didn’t stop my spiritual death by cubicle, it slowed it down considerably. You no longer need to wonder why a lot of working stiffs appear to be on the verge of nervous breakdowns …
It’s also interesting how our government and corporations run around saying we need to be more productive, then house workers in little insanity-breeding asylums. Why don’t they put their money where their mouths are and create office environments that promote creativity and collaboration and ingenuity.
Maybe then, we’d be able to come up with new ideas to move the US out of its recession of small-minded thinking. Forcing white-collared folks to work longer hours doing repetitive tasks in smaller cubicles with less chances to see sunlight during the day (adult recess) cannot possibly create a positive economic outcome.
I’m beginning to understand the real reason schools are being encouraged to eradicate recess. Makes the transition to a veal fattening work bin that much easier. If you can’t remember running around free, how can you miss it?
Got any stories from the cubicle trenches?
Muse thx, Giulietta