Friday, March 10, 2006

Monolithic Insanity and Brain Death by Dull Cubicle

Two articles regarding cubicles...

Everyday, I praise God that I work at home!
The bad memories abound - loud music, coarse joking, A.D.D. cubemates, the loud talker, cubical butterflies, lack of privacy, cubes so small that I couldn't turn my chair around and on and on...

The only redeeming thing I miss about cubicals is the close proximity to facilitating pranks on some poor helpless officemate who desperately deserved it...

First, Julie Schlosser, FORTUNE Magazine writes about The Great Escape...

Forty million American employees toil in soulless cubicles. How did they get there -- and can business ever break out of the box?

Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.

Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales--$3 billion or so a year--and has outlived every "office of the future" meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture.

Read the rest here


Kathy Sierra's Brain death by dull cubicle

You always knew that dull, boring cubicles could suck the joy out of work, but now there's evidence that they can change your brain. Not mentally or emotionally, no, we're talking physical structural changes. You could almost say, "Dull, lifeless work environments cause brain damage."

I said "almost", because it depends on your definition of brain damage. What the research suggests is that in unstimulating, unenriched, stressful environments, the brain STOPS producing new neurons (more on that later). But it's only been the last few years that scientists have finally realized that the human brain can build new neurons. For most of the previous century, it was believed that we were born with all the neurons we'd ever have.

Read the rest here

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