10 Reasons I Love My Cubicle

Office Space: One of the Greatest Movies of All Time!

Do I fantasize about living a location independent lifestyle one day? Absolutely. Do I see that in my 5-year future? Hell yes. But let me tell you a secret: right now, I love my cube. And don’t feel bad if you do too. Heck, even if it’s not love  – you can still find a lot to appreciate about the 40+ hour-a-week office job that often gets a bad rap in many blogs and books today.

While a handful of great blogs provide tips and resources for job-hunters to find office jobs, many extol the virtues of quitting to live free and independently; to work wherever you want, whenever you want. More power to those people! I have incredible respect and admiration for people like Carlos, Jamie, Carl, Jun and Sean for their drive, independence and ingenuity as they navigate ups and downs, set their on schedule and seek work that truly fulfills them.

Desk

A picture of my actual cube at Google

At the same time, I feel compelled to share why I love my cube in the hopes of encouraging those of you who may feel you’ve settled or are somehow stuck in the “dreaded rat-race” just because you “work for the man” at an office job. I realize that if you’re not currently doing work that suits you, where you sit – cube, couch or desk – won’t really matter. For help thinking about next steps in your career, check out my post on Creating a Professional Development Strategy – Part 1 and Part 2.

10 Reasons I Love My Cube

  1. I love working in an open, collaborative environment. I learn so much from my co-workers; in meetings, at lunch, passing in the hallways.
  2. It’s nice to have someone to turn around and share, vent or laugh with. I love spinning around in my black rolling chair, tapping my co-worker on the shoulder and asking for advice, input on a project, or just to take a quick chat break. It keeps me sane! There is something great about the personal, face-to-face connection that I have with co-workers IRL.
  3. I love structure. The 9-6 schedule really works for me! I wake up, go to the gym, work a full day, go to yoga, have dinner and go home. I’m fulfilled by having a routine, and don’t see it as being a prisoner at all.
  4. I love meeting new people. I live alone, so I’m glad I don’t also work alone (right now). I loooove my solitude. Sometimes it scares me how much! I wonder if I’ll wind up a cat lady – or in my case, a cupcake lady with empty boxes and stacks of books everywhere. But I digress. The point is – working for a company, especially a large one, is a great way to meet new people, particularly for those of us trying to expand our social circles after college.
  5. Office supplies galore! Here’s another secret about me: as a kid, I loved office supplies more than candy. One of the perks of working in an office: you get free office supplies! Just about whenever you need them! It’s beautiful. I love not having to worry about buying post-its, and I’m lucky enough to work for a company where they supply me with a nice laptop and tech support. I experience some serious savings as a result.
  6. Boring but true: benefits, benefits, benefits. I love that I don’t have to figure out how to get health insurance, a 401(k) or a Flexible Spending Account on my own. I fill out a handy little questionnaire online, and POW! All those things are taken care of. Benefits are complicated enough to figure out as an employee – I can’t imagine trying to figure out how to set-them up in the first place as my own boss. I’m sure I would eventually figure it out; but I’m perfectly happy spending my brain cells elsewhere for now.
  7. Get this: I like having a manager! Yes, it’s true. I love being a leader too – and I often seek ways to do that – but I learn so much from people with more experience than me. I like having a manager who asks pointed questions about my work, who gives me feedback, and who reflects on my strengths and areas for development. Side note: I’ve learned as much from bad managers as I have from good ones – all of which will help me be a better worker, leader and manager myself.
  8. Working for a company is like being in the middle of a business school case study – as it is being written. I love being an observer of how companies operate – all the way from a start-up to a big company like Google. How is the management team structured? What systems are in place across the company? What works? What doesn’t? How do leaders motivate their employees? What de-motivates them? How do companies streamline and automate tasks – both product-related and infrastructure-related? I love being able to observe and learn lessons about business and leadership, all without going into $150K of debt!
  9. When the printer says “PC Load Letter” I don’t have to fix it (or take it to a field and kick its ass). Don’t get me wrong – I’m a master at fixing copier jams. I get a weird sense of satisfaction from opening every FREAKING door and turning every damn handle until I fix the stupid thing. But in general, I’m thankful that I don’t need to purchase or maintain expensive office equipment (or trek to Kinkos and pay them exorbitant amounts of money for things like color copies).
  10. I will love the location independent lifestyle even more when I get there. Working in a cube – enjoying it AND getting it out of my system – will really help me enjoy and appreciate the location independent lifestyle when I finally take the plunge in a few years. I’ll know what I’m leaving behind – the good and the bad – and find ways to re-create the good when I’m out there on my own.

How about you? Anything you love about cube life that I missed?

A final note: may we all find our own freedom in our everyday lives, cube or not.

88 comments

Categories: Work

  • http://www.lifewithoutpants.com Matt Cheuvront

    The daughter on the way is now here! (speaking on behalf of Sam) – Mr. Davidson is now a proud papa! Couldn't be happier for you my friend.

    As for this post, Jenny – most people will tell you that the routine is a prison, but it doesn't have to be. It CAN be, if you let it, or if you put yourself in the wrong situation, but every job, even the corporate structured nine to five can be great – especially when your working toward a later goal. You know you want to be location independent, hell, I'd love that as well – or at least to start my own company – but I'm learning a lot from people who are more experience than me – getting a lot of know how – and still making time for my “passions” on the side. Really couldn't ask for much more at this stage in my life.

    I love your attitude lately – you are a constant reminder that you don't have to be go-go-go all the time, that relaxing IS ok, and that at the end of the day, life, work – it all should be enjoyed as much as possible.

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Hey Kristi! So funny that you say that – sometimes activities that seem
    counter-productive (like chatting at work) actually help us focus and get
    back on track. At least if you can't turn around in your desk, there's
    always Twitter :D Happy Friday!

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Matt – thanks for the update! That is so exciting for Sam. I love what you
    said about keeping the longer term goals in mind and learning as much as
    possible in the meantime. Very cool that you are thinking of starting your
    own company one day – I would expect nothing less from you! I really admire
    the way you are able to balance your job, your blog and all the other
    outreach you do with LWP – it's awesome. And all that while planning a
    wedding! Thanks again for such a great comment and for stopping by – happy
    Friday!!

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Doniree – thanks girl! That last line is so important and so often easiest
    to overlook. I think sometimes we blame our circumstances (a cubicle) for
    feeling imprisoned, when in reality it's our own thought patterns. If we can
    just get out of our own way, I think we'll find freedom in many unexpected
    places. On that note, have a great freedom-filled weekend!

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    OMG your office is SO cute!! I love the yellow! And don't they say that
    walls painted yellow make people happier?

    Let's slumber party this weekend for SURE!!! Maybe tomorrow? We can tweet
    and figure it out. XOXO!!!

  • LostInCheeseland

    This makes me really want to work for Google! I think the space in which you work is pleasant only if your colleagues and overall working conditions are favorable. But you've really only enhanced my desire to aspire to land a job at Google one day! Know anyone at Google Paris? (I live in Paris!)

    The work schedule is also important because you're only as productive as you are rested and content in your personal life. I'm glad to see you're so happy at work!

  • http://www.2knowmyself.com/ farouk

    oh i am exactly your opposite, i can't work if there is any kind of noise or distraction, cubicles, turn me into a complete unproductive person. People are different anyways!!

  • http://nawalatribe.blogspot.com Nawala

    great post! i def think people can enjoy the 9-5 especially since you can have the 9-5 at a job you LOVE…..i’m hoping to skip the 9-5 routine though and you’ve opened me up to the world of location independent THANK YOU because i had no idea where to begin.

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    This is a really great post and I'm glad you skipped the bull shit. The cube isn't for everyone but it's also not the prison so many of us make it out to be. Personally, I think a good mix of working in an office (i.e. collaborative, sometimes supportive and often challenging) environment and doing your own thing is the best for everyone's mental and financial health. That's just me though. To each his own and you're VERY lucky to be getting so much out of your day job. More power to you!

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Thanks Marian – yes, I feel very fortunate to get as much
    enjoyment/fufillment out of my day job as I do. Like you said – at the end
    of the day, it really comes down to doing what is best for each individual's
    mental and financial health. I like a mix of office work and independent
    projects too – which is why having a blog is such a blast!

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  • jrmoreau

    Interesting post Jenny! I can't believe I missed this 3 weeks ago. No matter, I'm glad I found it.

    I think your points are very valid here. If you've got a standard 40 hour a week job, the cubicle can sort of be an anchor in one's lifestyle. You know where all things are going to happen in your day and where you'll be leaving them when you take off at 5 or 6.

    I see the lines get blurred when you start working 40+ hours. If I start working a ton of hours from home after work hours, I ask myself, what is really the point of getting to my seat at 9AM every day? Does it matter? If I'm always expected to be working, why do the time and location constraints to my desk still exist?

    Your points all do lead to something that I agree with though… it makes the location independent lifestyle that much sweeter when it does happen. We might just like it for different reasons when we get there :-)

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    JAMES!!! My long-lost virtual pal :D Thanks so much for stopping by – and
    for the Brazen feature on this one – YTB!

    Very true that cube life can provide an anchor – and it's probably a very
    individual thing as to whether having an anchor is a good thing or a bad
    thing. I think you bring up a great point – if you are working 40+ hours
    (particularly in a tech-related job), then it really doesn't matter where
    you do your work. I happen to be a lot more productive when I'm in the
    office, but it doesn't mean I wouldn't like a little more flexibility on
    certain days.

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  • Stacey

    So, what plunge do you plan on making? What do you want to do after working in a cubicle? It was nice to read the positives of cubicle work, I do forget these so easily.

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Stacey – thanks for stopping by! If I do leave the corporate world, I think
    it will be to pursue a career as a writer/speaker/life coach/workshop
    leader. But who knows :) Glad you liked the post — have a great weekend!

  • Guest

    I would want to work in a cubicle too if I worked at Google, unfortunately many “cubicle” jobs are not as cool as Google.

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    I can totally see what you mean. You are right – working at Google does give
    me a skewed perspective of cube life, but I tried to make the Top 10 reasons
    things that could apply to any office (not just Google-specific perks). In
    any case, if you're looking to escape cubicle nation I fully support you!
    Pam Slim's blog is great if you haven't seen it yet:
    http://EscapeFromCubicleNation.com.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://www.inthewhitecity.wordpress.com Whitney

    Great post, Jenny! I agree that the cubicle life gets a bad reputation despite its perks. On your first point about the collaborative environment, I totally hear you: an open or cubicle work environment lets you keep up-to-speed with the happenings of the company, and in doing so, fosters a sense of camaraderie between you and your co-workers. It's really undervalued at times! I'm working on an “after college”-style blog of my own (http://www.inthewhitecity.wordpress.com) about living in Chicago after college, and the prolificness of your blog has been an inspiration! Keep up the great work.

  • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

    Thanks for stopping by, Whitney! Looking forward to keeping in touch – your blog looks great :D Have an amazing weekend! Chicago is such a great city – you must be having a blast :)

  • Jake

    Whatever helps you sleep at night Jenny :-)

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  • Dguest

    I don’t like my cubicle, I was searching online from cubicle for reasons why other people would enjoy theirs. People think I am crazy for not liking the stability, paycheck, stability, and business operations. I do however enjoy all the people and the office supplies.
    I really like your quote, ‘. I realize that if you’re not currently doing work that suits you, where you sit – cube, couch or desk – won’t really matter’ I think the fact that I am working for the man selling productsthat people really don’t need doesn’t help my cubicle cause. I aslo renamed my cubicle a castle so it had more positive word association.

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Hi David,

      Thanks for stopping by! I love that you’re started calling your cubicle a
      castle – that’s brilliant! I never forget the quote, “Say no to the good so
      you can say yes to the great.” Sometimes we HAVE to say no to stability and
      comforts of office life to pursue what we are really passionate about — and
      it’s up to each individual with that fire burning within them to leap when
      they’re ready. Until then, always good to appreciate the positive aspects of
      cube/office life too.

      Have a great day!
      Jenny

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  • Tmriddle37

    Hey I thought you guys might be interested in this- my office is in terrible shape aesthetically, and my sister sent me this link to a contest where you can win a brand new renovation and office remodeling if you have the ugliest office. Just made a video, going to upload- not too many people have seen this yet because no one else has entered.  Will finally be able to make my work space as pleasant as your cubicle looks! 

    • Tmriddle37

      Google Pimp My Cube if you want to enter yourself! 

  • Jim

    Maybe you love your office, because you work for Google… One of the best, employee friendly companies on earth… 

    Comparing yourself to Milton with the top picture is kind of pathetic given that your work environment is endless nicer than most peoples… 

  • http://www.facebook.com/devin.nielson.9 Devin Nielson

    I hate to be the troll in this post. But you work for Google! How can you even compare to other peoples cube life? If you honestly think they are pretty close to the same, you should take a hard look at life OUTSIDE your bubble.

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  • Vick

    Trolls will be trolls. Typical. I don’t work at Google but you hit it right on. Being happy is a choice. Unfortunately, so is being a troll. Great article!

  • Songalong

    Great post! I think I will have to reference this post every time I am feeling glum about slaving away in a cubicle! Actually, today my first day! Personally, I opened a whole new chapter in my life as I stared into the bleak grayness of my quadrilateral abode. Here’s to making the best of it!

  • Angel

    She doesnt work for google, she mentioned it as an example of a “big company”.

    I want to work in a cubicle too and came across this post of yours while researching. thank you! will be reading more..

    • Steve

      clearly, her preview picture of her cubicle states, ‘my cubicle at Google’…

  • LeslieAnn

    Items 1 and 2. I dislike cubicles for these very reasons! I am trying to concentrate and I have Chatty Cathys all around me talking about little Suzy’s soccer game. Do me a favor, save it for break time! You may need a little chat break but I need to get some things done and I CAN’T because your yackity yacking is distracting!

    I have a co-worker who is always looking for “advice” or “tips”. This translates to: I take the time out of my schedule to figure something out and after I have, she asks me how to do something or accomplish something all without losing any of her precious time like I had to. I guess this gives her more time to be a Chatty Cathy!!!

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