Monday, December 31, 2012

While visions of cubicles danced in their heads...

If you currently work in a cube farm, or if you have no set place of work at all (or, indeed, no job at the moment), you will be perfectly right to withhold any and all sympathy for my impending "plight". Nevertheless, I hate it and I shall whine about it.

They (the monolithic THEY who decide where, how, and when peons in any given organization will work) have decided to kick us out of our beautiful, custom-built-for-us building and shove us into substandard digs in an old building on campus that (A) cannot possibly hold all of us, (B) deprives us of an on-site meeting place, and (C) ensures that our current growth will have us busting the seams outta the place in no time. "They" want our nice, pretty building for research, never mind that it was not built for that purpose and they'll have to spend a pretty penny remodeling it. In fact, a previous regime of "They" promised any building on campus to a particular research outfit in exchange for a buttload of money, and that chicken just happened to come to roost right on top of us at just this point in time. We've tried to tell them we won't fit in the new place (Drane Hall), but it doesn't matter--They want us to move, so we're moving, sometime in the spring.

They're remodeling inside Drane, of course, but there's only so much you can do with a 60-year-old university office building when two of its floors (and part of the third) are already occupied and its footprint cannot expand beyond its current boundaries. So most of us are going to be sharing a small office with at least one other person. Me and my crew, however, are going to be shoved into one long room in a bunch of cubicles--10 people in one room. Ten introverted editors and production wonks, all of whom need to concentrate on their work, crammed into one room. And I've seen the room in question; if we're lucky, there'll be room for cubicles to provide an illusion of separation. It looks to me more like 10 open desks, with maybe a hutch between me & thee.

I've worked in all sorts of situations since I was 18--a spot at a long drafting table, one corner of a room, a dumb terminal and chair whenever there was one available, floating between stations depending on what type of work I was doing, sharing an office with 3-5 other people (not in cubicles, and it was a pretty large room)--but never in a cube farm. And I've had an office to myself for the past 14 years or so, which makes the prospect of cubicles even more hideous. I use my entire big desk in my private office when I'm working on a project; in a cubicle, I'll be lucky to grab half that amount of desktop space.

But the loss of space isn't the part I hate most--it's the loss of separation, the loss of privacy, the loss of one little corner where I can shut the door and decompress from contact with humans for an hour each day. And the loss of SILENCE, of being able to hear myself think as I edit or code or whatever, of controlling the noise in my environment, of being invisible to people who want me to do stuff during my lunch break.

AAARRGH--I hate it! Even the tiny office I had in the previous suite we were shuttled into by a crazy boss was better than a cubicle.

"Oh! But you'll have a window again! The room has a whole bank of windows! There'll be so much natural light!" Big effin' deal--I'd trade all those windows for a private office in a storage closet.

How long 'til retirement now? Only about 12.5 years....

Why, yes, I will have some cheese with my whine.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Ugh. I'm sorry to hear you lost your office. I lived in cubicle world, and in a fishbowl (public reception) for a long while, and when I interviewed for a new job in the late 90s, the office they showed me WAS a storage closet, and I LOVED it. It was about 6'x10' and I really felt I had arrived when I got that job. Who needs a window when you have a florescent light of your very own? :) (I also worked in the greenhouses, so I couldn't complain about natural light). I would have hated going back to a cubicle. Good luck!