Cubicles: The little office space that could

Kai Ryssdal Jan 6, 2015
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Cubicles: The little office space that could

Kai Ryssdal Jan 6, 2015
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Anyone who works in an office is bound to have complaints – the bad coffee, poor fluorescent lighting and rows of bland cubicles as far as the eye can see.

That’s exactly what New York Magazine contributing editor Jennifer Senior is celebrating in the magazine’s latest edition with what she calls “an ode to the cubicle.”

“No matter how you dress ’em up, even if you put volleyball pits in between them … they’re sort of the office pig, no matter how much lipstick you try to apply.” But Senior also defends the cubicle – “they’re still your nest in a larger home.” And what’s really important, is what the cubicle signifies: The experience of working in an office with co-workers instead of working alone at home or in a coffee shop.

“It has this deep psychological meaning for people,” says Senior about office work. One benefit of working alongside colleagues on a regular basis? A little friendly competition.

“Even if you compete with them, competing is not bad, right? They make you work harder and they make you see what’s possible,” she says.

Yet regular office work is going away. According to Intuit, “roughly 40 percent of the workforce will be ‘gig-ing’ it in some way, unaffiliated,” Senior says. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and others say that number is probably accurate.

Even as freelance work becomes more common, Senior says we should still be concerned about contingent workers doing blue-collar jobs. They tend to be worse off financially than their permanent counterparts who do the same job.

 

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