Sharing an office with several people offers a few challenges to say the least and it also provides an opportunity to discover the importance of getting along well with others. However, it has me wondering how much space does one employee need to be able to carry out their duties in an effective and efficient manner? Am I the only one who struggles with being crammed into a small work area and having to deal with cranky bosses and incompatible office mates? For some reason, call it lack of real world work experience, I thought this situation was reserved for call center workers slaving away for long hours and low wages in India or factory laborers sewing the latest fashion items in Bangladesh.
Last year when I stepped into my new office for the first time there were eight desks and although somewhat crowded there was enough room for everyone to feel reasonably comfortable. There was also a promise of partitions so that each of us would have a quieter working space and some privacy. Teachers continued to arrive at the college. Without partitions the noise level was high, with students coming and going, discussions between colleagues and students, telephones ringing, a printer in constant motion, air conditioners providing a continual humming in the background and random conversations that take place in a variety of languages. It was almost impossible to concentrate and prepare for classes.
Now there are sixteen cubicles! They are neat and compact – approximately 18 square feet. Just imagine a computer, books, cabinets, files, office supplies, a garbage bin, a chair and me in this little box. Is there any special way to survive life in a cubicle?
The idea of working in close quarters is something that does not appeal to me. I require a quiet environment and a lot of space to be organized, feel relaxed and focus on my daily tasks. Instead, I find myself in a small office with fifteen others squeezed into tiny cubicles. This has forced me to ponder cubicle etiquette in order to keep the daily office interactions harmonious so that we can all get along and have an amicable co-existence as well as a productive work atmosphere. Thus, after more than a year of contemplating over an initial list of two dozen triggers that set me silently scowling in my compartment I have narrowed my list down to ten important rules. In the process, I also noticed how many terrible office-habits I possess and that one strategy for coping with life in a cubicle is to adapt my behavior. Now, here is what I have come up with to avoid unsolicited stress in the workplace. I would like to disclose these ten commandments of cubicle life to my colleagues but fear that my vision of office harmony may not be acceptable or misunderstood by many of the diverse individuals who share my space.
Any ideas or suggestions on how to survive in the modern world of cubicles would be greatly appreciated.