Why Not to Hate Cubicle Nation

by Alexander Heyne · 4 comments

It’s the new era of Internet “everything.”

Social media, social networks, viral advertising, twitter, tweets, twats, SEO, escaping the 9 to 5, location independent living, passive income.

Going along with it, everyone suddenly is criticizing the 9-5 “Work in a box” usefulness (or even need).

I think this sudden jump is a gross oversimplification and assumption, regarding what people individually need or even strive for.

There is nothing inherently more beneficial about working at a desk with specific hours, you just need to see what is most effective with your own goals in mind.

Let me elaborate.

The fads of change

It’s the cool thing to work from the internet man. You don’t want to be out of the loop do you?

Don’t you know that everyone is escaping the 9-5 with a blog these days?

You didn’t hear that people are experiencing unlimited world travel just by putting a couple ads on their site?

Dude, showing up for work at an office is SO passé. I just get out of bed in my pajamas and bed hair, grab a coffee, and i’m good to go!

What’s the problem here?

I may be going out on a limb here, but the phases that people go through regarding fads (a big one now being the entrepreneurial / work from home fad) often resemble the “youth in revolt” type mindset.

Let me explain

When I was 16 I was like “F – religion man. I’m so outta this dump.”

I started falling into this whole “religious people are mindless sheep” kind of thinking. Only naive, narrow minded people were Christian, right?  They just believe what is spoon fed to them and they do so willingly.  They even have a convenient little book that provides mindless answers: “Let’s see.. was that A, B or C…”

After a few more years, I calmed down a little.  My thought pattern became “Alright, well, whatever floats your boat.”  It was closer to apathy and “whatever gets you off” kind of thinking.

Still a couple years later my thinking changed again. It became “Alright, well there is obviously a lot of wisdom in there, I don’t agree with a lot of the really religious people I’ve met, but I have met some real jewels from time to time. In fact, I’ve met some pretty damn intelligent people who worked really hard at understanding their beliefs.”

I realized that these phases tend to echo how most of us embrace change.

The evolution of awareness

First. We think those that are behind us are worth less than we are. It’s like when you read a self-help book, master your inner demons, and then think you’re better than everyone else out there that doesn’t have self-control.

“If you are still physically going to work you are way behind the times, cubicles are for people who are still mindless slaves to the man.”

Unfortunately it’s not quite that black and white.

Second. Some of us just become the “hate it or embrace it” kind of person. IPhones? “I like to keep my smart phone and my mp3 separate.”  Or you become the “OMG I <3 Apple and and love all the insane apps.  Have you tried words with friends??”

“Dude I love working in a physical office with people.  There’s the gossip corner.  The water fountain gossip corner.  The toilet-line gossip corner, and the over the cubicle gossip corner.  Plus, I totally get paid to play scrabble online all day. P.S. Did you see that reddit post about nastiest sex stories ever?”

“If I have to deal with that moron Mitch one more time I’m going to tear this whole place down.”

Third. We grow a little more tolerant about the situation.  We realize that it’s “different strokes for different folks” and that it’s exhausting to always swim upstream  or to try and force things when they simply won’t budge.

“Sure man, working in a cubicle can be alright for some.  Whatever works I guess. I just wouldn’t want to be there.”

Fourth. We may actually come to even accept the situation.

“Well, I guess if it’s conducive to his goals, that’s alright…”

The Real Question

That last sentence above is the real gem here. The real meat of the issue.

Is physically going to an office conducive to your goals?

Sit down, decide what your goals are, write them down in a list and then figure out what is or is not conducive to your goals.

  • If driving to an office is a ritual that gets your mind in the game to do work, then do it!
  • If you have a family, own a home, or like being in a social environment for work – go to an office!
  • If you just don’t see a need to be mobile with your job, then stay in your cubicle.

If you are just content with where you are, then there is no reason to change anything.

The location-indepent lifestyle is definitely not for everyone, and honestly, those outside of the extremely free “emerging adulthood phase” may find it counterproductive.

So remember

The only real measure of success is this: how close you are to where you want to be.

Everything else doesn’t matter.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

catherine September 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Great post! Im in the process of getting an MBA and as someone who graduated with a humanities degree and never thought I would be pursuing such business-y goals, I sometimes find myself worrying that Im going to find myself somewhere in a cubicle and unhappy. My overall goal though is to use my MBA skills to be an entreprenuer. You´re right though, that sometimes its not the worst type of situation, you might even meet great people, and overall, one needs to learn to be happy wherever they are or they never will be. Success comes from inside, in other words. :)

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afheyne September 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm

That’s awesome! I was also actually just on your blog — you’re in Chile doing your MBA?

And totally, if you have an MBA (or just want to be an entrepreneur) remember that you aren’t locked into just one life path…

Doing business just means providing a service or product to/for someone that they pay for. That is an immensely broad definition. Make it how you want it..

But regarding the whole cubicle situation, I know someone who was formerly in a great social-type atmosphere for work. She changed her job into more isolated work at home kind of stuff, doing social media promotion, and she got really miserable, really quickly.

Some people just thrive on the social aspects of having an office to work in.

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Gerard ~ GQ trippin September 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I think pursuing an MBA is still the best thing you can do if you’re planning to start your own business. I just completed my MBA this past May and I can tell you most of the knowledge you gain from an MBA is more applicable to running a small business.

I’ve been working in the corporate world for the past 6 years and honesty it’s been a blast for me. I’ve worked with some awesome people and made life-long friends. But the corporate job also just laid me off this past week. But no worries because I have other plans now. I even just wrote a blog post about this.

Cheers!

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afheyne September 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Gerard —

It does seem like the MBA is intensely practical. Most of my friends doing an MBA program quickly get into start ups of their own rather than just joining the ranks all over again. But I guess it depends on the person and what they want to do.

The only reason I’m not getting into corporate life right now is because I’m interesting in living in a couple of overseas cities & picking up language skills while working abroad. Then again, I guess companies do have branches internationally as well – that might be an option I want to consider.

Alex

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