A Cubier Cube

Against all odds, working from home [has been] more successful than anyone would have predicted, with many people reporting their productivity [levels] increased during the first two months of lockdown.

“Against all odds” indeed. Bloody hell. As if the mandatory attendance of an open-plan Hell is the only conceivable way of getting things done on the road to fulfillment and is not, as the case may be, its single biggest obstruction.

The article is admirably about the quest for other ways of working though, and how offices might be redesigned in the future to be happier and more pleasant places.

It goes into the story of Bob Probst, whom I mentioned in Escape Everything! as the de-facto inventor of the office cubicle. He invented it as modular “systems furniture” and now sees the classic “veal fattening pen” as an abuse of his system.

What I wanted to mention though, is how the photograph used to illustrate the piece (a) looks sort-of like a miniature rather than a real place, or is that my imagination?; and (b) looks oddly preferable to the offices I have known even though it’s clearly supposed to illustrate the worst excesses of dystopian workplace architecture.

Weirdly, what I like about it are those privacy dividers (splash boards?) between work spaces: actual cubicle walls. We didn’t have those in our office, so we just had to dwell in each other’s personal head space all day, trying not to read each other’s minds and unable to pick our noses. It was exhausting. Yes, I might have actually preferred a cubier cube to the one I had. Weird!

Obviously, I’d rather be at home though. Or in a library. Or on a beach. Or just impaled on a spike.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

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