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10 June 2010

Cubicle Shuffle Several people in our office had to relocate their desks to the cubes around me and I'm going insane!![More:]

I went from having eight empty cubes around me to ONE. These people talk and talk and talk and I just want to work quietly. I don't care if you ate 1000 calories of whipped cream yesterday, psycho hosebeast!
This is what iPods were made for. I couldn't cubically survive without one. I feel your pain.
posted by iconomy 10 June | 11:41
I worked (briefly) in a non-cubed open-plan office last year. Just an open floor of desks, with nothing to look at but the person's back in front of you. My desk was at the front of a grouping so I had an aisle right in front of me with people constantly walking past or stopping and having conversations 1/2 a foot from me. Gave me painful head-aches trying to concentrate on my work and filter out the eight plus different conversations going on around me at once.

Management was very proud of the arrangement and was always talking about how it fostered collaboration and common ownership of projects or some such blather. I quit after four months of that.
posted by octothorpe 10 June | 11:52
I've got an iPod, but currently use a docking station. At some point, turning up the volume to drown out the blather is not going to be an option.

I've thought about switching to headphones, but I think people would have a hard time getting my attention when they do need me. Maybe I could develop some sort of doorbell (cubebell?) that lights up an LED by my monitor....
posted by youngergirl44 10 June | 11:56
Octothorpe, I've worked in an office like that for ten years. It's ok if I'm at a desk in a corner, but I've had the crappy desks way too often, on an aisle, near the elevators, near the coffee machines, near the photocopiers.

My latest desk is quiet ... ish, but there are 9 people in my team and only 8 desks in each block so I am sitting apart from them, with my back towards them, amongst the admin staff and so feel a bit left out.
posted by Senyar 10 June | 11:57
Senyar, one of the other management innovations at that place was that no member of a team should sit anywhere near anyone else on their team. The the members of my QA team were scattered all over the floor in every direction as were the members of every other team. So none of the conversations that you were overhearing had anything to do with what you were working on.
posted by octothorpe 10 June | 12:11
youngergirl44, this may have been a personal quirk, but I always found that wearing headphones helped me tune out the conversations around me, even if the music wasn't loud enough to drown them out, because the headphones served as a visual reminder to others that I wasn't participating in their conversations and so I let go of any internal pressure to pay attention to what anyone else was saying. (Does that sentence make any sense? I'm not sure how else to explain it.) Half the time I didn't even have music playing.
posted by occhiblu 10 June | 12:29
In-Ear Headphones + rear view mirror for your monitor = quiet personal workspace with an idea of the world at large. I'm not promoting any particular product, these were just the first good matches I found.
posted by filthy light thief 10 June | 13:51
octothorpe, I've been in some open-plan arrangements that have worked fine -- small groups sharing a sort of bullpen -- but that scattered plan sounds pretty hellish.

And occhi, I know exactly what you mean about headphones allowing you to tune out the conversations, even if they don't actually filter out the sound.

As for me, I don't like using a desk. Laptop on lap is the preferred work mode. And I can't stand facing the wall, back to the entrance. I guess that makes me a natural mafiosa.
posted by tangerine 10 June | 14:19

I'm getting out my headphones. Right. Now.
posted by youngergirl44 10 June | 15:10
yea the gospel music is a non-starter. Sorry about the loud cube-mates. I'm very, very lucky in that I have a door that closes, and I'm encouraged to use it. I also have a nice ipod docking station with speakers in my office.

speaking of office insanity, mine was torn apart and completely reconfigured today to install one of those fancy hydraulic standing desks that raise/lower. Hopefully this will resolve my aching lower back problems :/

so far, so good. I like my new desk!
posted by lonefrontranger 10 June | 16:55
I bought a cheap pair of earphones and cut off one of the earphones and that way I can still hear the music and I can also hear when someone wants me.
posted by govtdrone 10 June | 19:37
I recently bought a BIGGER pair of headphones in hopes that people would be more inclined to leave me the fuck alone. We moved to a cube environment about 2 years ago, and I think it's ruined my ability to work. I seriously worry about this. I just can't concentrate, between the interruptions that i get now that I can't close a door, and the constant chatter around me. I think cubes might work for some people, and an open concept might ALSO work for some, but I'm pretty sure I need a door to close.
posted by richat 10 June | 19:43
I think I'm somewhere between cube-functioning and closed-door functioning. The last office I had made me feel lonely and shut off from everyone else. Being in a cube makes me feel like a part of the group. And I like being part of the group.

But does the group have to go to lunch at the same time and then bring the food back to the office and eat at their desks so I have to hear all of them munching away and crackling the chip bags and talking with their mouths full?!?!?!!?? GAR!

I guess it is headphones for me, which my boss has no problem with, so that's cool. But there will be a day that someone sneaks up on me while I've got my headphones in and I'm gonna scream. I guarantee it.
posted by youngergirl44 10 June | 19:59
richat: Did the bigger headphones work? I'm currently using skull candy earbuds, but could go bigger if size equals effectiveness.
posted by youngergirl44 10 June | 20:00
Conservation of Cubicles:

In my office, I was surrounded by yakkity-yakkers. About two weeks ago, they were moved to another building. There are now 5 of us left.


That said, I had to work late last night and there was a late-running meeting in the conference room about 4 cubes down from me. The meeting "ended" but then the people lingered, with the conf room door open, for another hour and had little side meetings and social chit-chat. And my headphones couldn't drown them out. Grrrrrr...
posted by Doohickie 10 June | 20:54
Our cubes and office layout is nicely designed in that people in the same team are near each other and that's good. What's bad is that some people make/take calls on their cell which means that they're speaking louder than necessary which can get annoying.

If you want to have a private conversation, you go into the conference room and shut the door, but lots of people want to have private, confidential conversations, so often they'll also find themselves pacing in the corner in a back part of the office or outside in front of the office.

Luckily for me, I've established that I wear headphones and play music a lot, so I'm not bothered by some of those loud conversations. Also, my desk faces a walkway so I always know when someone's going to come up behind me or needs my attention.
posted by TrishaLynn 11 June | 07:40
youngergirl, yup, they've helped. Also, my music sounds WAY better.

I think they help in a couple of ways...first they are, perhaps, able to make people think I'm less able to hear them, but they also allow me to pretend I'm less able to hear them!
posted by richat 11 June | 21:36
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