Working in an office environment means being encased in beige, pale gray, or some other neutral toned fabric these days. But that hasn’t always been the case. Mid-twentieth century designers decided that we would work better with the illusion of privacy and the cubicle was born.
In the open plan office, the fabric walls do thankfully absorb some of the sounds that occur when multiple people go about their day. People like me also have a ready place to post information, reminders and musings.
The most curious thing about the cube, to my thinking is the way it can mask your proximity to so many other people. When I am trying to concentrate to create a difficult memo, I appreciate the way that the wall cuts out distractions of movement. But I blush to think about the personal things that I have learned about others, and that others have probably learned about me because of the way that neutral wall offered some anonymity.
Of course the likelihood that we will encounter some level of TMI when we work day after day with so many others is always present. And I have overheard conversations coming out of offices with real walls and doors as well just by walking down the hall.
We are each persons who work. We have a work persona and a personal life which will intersect regardless of how circumspect we might want to be. The only opportunity to call the doctor might be during your work hours, because that overlaps with hers. Your kids should be able to call you when they are safely home from school. Building relationships requires the sharing of one’s self to a certain extent.
We do need to post a sign for ourselves that the walls have ears.
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