Friday, December 03, 2010

Open Cubicles and Work

I wanted to blog about this for a long time and finally it's out today. If you are in the computer science world working in some company or doing research, cubicles will not be a new thing for you. A large room partitioned into blocks of small cubicles and two or more people working nearby are the typical nature of these work areas.

Honestly, I really really don't like this setting. I wonder who came up with this idea of having people sit nearby in the open and work. May be people are thinking that having open cubicles give more freedom to people because they are not physically constrained by walls or doors. But have they ever thought the effect on mind? Does physical boundaries affect the same way to mind? In fact, I think it's totally the other way around. You cannot think effectively when you are in open with others. Essentially what happens is that you are physically free, but mentally constrained.

The truth with everyone, no matter how much they don't like to show it, is that they have unique ways of working optimally. This may include things like clapping and rubbing the hands when your code works and say "Oh! Sh*t" when it doesn't. Not to mention the luxury of thinking silently. How much of these can you do when you are in a professional setting surrounded by others? Also, how much actions of others can you tolerate. Here's one of my personal experience. A person who sat next to me used to sip his coffee so loud and end each sip with the sound "aah". I understand that it's how he likes to enjoy his coffee. That's perfectly fine, but for me that sipping was annoying and disturbing.

So in my view, if you want to work effectively specially when you have to think, open cubicles are nothing but jail to your mind. If you think I am crazy, think of theses (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/sep/19/books-written-in-prison). These guys were in prison physically, but they had all the "space" in mind to think. No I am not suggesting to go to prison to work :D.

Anyway, another good video on "Why work doesn't happen at work", by Jason Fried from one the TED talks can be found from here (http://www.ted.com/talks/jason_fried_why_work_doesn_t_happen_at_work.html).

2 comments:

  1. There are pros and cons for cubicles. I think your opinion is not true for all people. If we categorize people on this subject there could be a big percentage that perfectly agree with you. On the otherhand there could be may be even bigger percentage that enjoy working in cubicles. IMHO that depend on the characteristic of each person.

    In my understanding if all people working on a cubicle match each other in certain things then working in a cubicle is a good thing.

    If not it is better 100% occupied with your computer.

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  2. I think the word "cubicle" lead to many different viewpoints simply because it's too general to represent what I wanted. In fact, I received some interesting comments in FB that suggested it this is because some people like small enclosures while others like more roomier environments.

    To be little clear, what I wanted to mean by "open cubicles" is workspaces that are placed in open environments and which have adjacent workspaces separated by transparent (glass, grills, etc) material.

    Anyway, I agree that if you are working with your buddies then it's not that much of an issue. Also, there may be a personal bias to this. However, I am not suggesting a so quiet (like a temple) workplace with no one around. Also I don't necessarily agree with some comments in FB which suggested that this depends on the roominess of the cubicle. The only thing is that your workspace should give you the enough ability to concentrate on what you like to do. Otherwise, there's no good place like home :)

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