Workplace: Cubicle Care

Cubicle installations have been the rage in workplaces for nearly forty years. I mean this in two ways. First, so many businesses have installed cubicles in all sizes and configurations of spaces that it is safe to say cubicles are a work environment “rage” or design decision. Second, employees working in cubicle environments will tell you how enraged they have been from time to time working in a “cube farm” trying to get work done or to meet project deadlines when the noise and interruptions prevent successful work accomplishments.

Cubicle care is a workplace topic in two parts: the care of the space and the care of our well-being as cube-workers. Today’s focus is cubicle care – the physical space! Here are some tips for making the most of your cube-space.

  • Organization. If the things you use every day are in arms reach, you are on the way to productive organization. Move things further away if you don’t use them or refer to them daily. Look at your file system – paper and electronic. Are you saving what you and the company need to refer to in the future? Or, are you holding onto files that can be deleted/recycled/shredded?
  • Desks. Does your desk and chair set-up work for you or is it making your body ache? Ask HR for the ergonomics specialist to visit your work area to assess and recommend what will work best for you. At a conference presentation, I learned that many people with stand-up desks are moving their keyboards up to levels that are too high, putting strain on their bodies. I also learned that chair armrest heights and tilt matter to our physical well-being. How can you adjust your desk and chair to work best for you?
  • Noise. Some employees opt for personal listening systems via earbuds or blue-tooth music systems. Some companies rely on an overhead music system to create white-noise and increase employee comfort. Still other companies have done nothing to manage the additional noise that cubicle environments generate. Assess what noise levels are happening in your workplace. Determine whether the levels are acceptable or are impairing productivity. Some companies have installed higher cube walls to deter sound interruptions. Some organizations allow people to work in conference rooms or from home on days that require focused attention and project completion. Explore your options.
  • Interruptions. One of the time-management workshop tips I share is this. “If you have candy in your office, you have invited people to interrupt you; reconsider whether the candy bowl is helping you accomplish work.” Another tip: “If you have a guest chair in your cubicle, you are inviting people to come in and visit for a while.” Manage the things you have control over. Redirect the things you don’t have control over, such as people asking you questions. Consider standing up to answer questions, the conversation will be shorter. Remember the two-minute rule to move conversations away from chatting and back to the work that needs to be done or the help that is needed.
  • Privacy. Cubicle spaces do not provide privacy. When delicate, corrective, negotiating, or disciplinary conversations need to happen, reserve a closed-door office or a meeting room for everyone’s protection. When private phone conversations need to occur, move to a protected space so that the conversation is protected too.

What two things can you do this week to improve your cubicle care so that it is more productive and healthier for you?

Workplace: Managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives takes work. Together, let’s explore    what issues and activities affect us every day (or some days) that we go to work. – Jana

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