Cubicle Art

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I’m not much of an art fan. Like most people I don’t know much about art, I just know what I like when I see it.

And in the field of cubicle art, there are not many artists to choose from, but I recently came across a selection of photographs by Simon Currell.

Simon is an ex-Englishman, now Aussie who creates art and one of his particular passions is the work space, or more precisely the work cubicle/office environment. He does some pretty amazing things and here is a small selection. More of this work can be found attached to his facebook profile here.

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Interview with a Cubicle Guru

William Vitanyl, the man who proves that working in a cubicle drives you insane, has finally deigned to give YouCube an interview. Of course, this may or may not have something to do with the recent publication of Bill’s book, “The Official Guide To Office Wellness,”

Regardless, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Vitanyl to the studio for an exclusive interview. Bill also represents the publishing company, Bayla publishing and prefers to be referred to as , “Bayla,” for the purposes of this interview.

YC: Thanks for the interview, Bayla. Can you tell us about your latest book, The Official Guide to Office Wellness?

Bayla: Sure. Basically it’s a 120-page hardcover book that features 100 office workers demonstrating animal-inspired techniques designed to alleviate office maladies.

YC: You’re kidding? ……. I mean, uh, why animals?

Bayla: Because animals have wisdom.

YC: Interesting…… So you use the inspiration of animals to help humans survive their cubicle existence?

Bayla: Sort of. As the leading expert on animal-inspired cubicle exercise I recognize that animal physiology is radically different from ours. Years of research has shown this to be true.

YC: Right… and are there any other experts on animal inspired cubicle exercise?

Bayla: (Ignoring the question) So attempting to mimic actual animal movements and apply it to human wellness would be a bit silly.

YC:
But the book itself is rather silly.

Bayla: Animals provide inspiration. There’s nothing silly about being inspired.

YC: But the models in the photographs are posing on, over, and in their desks and cubicles. The positions are rather bizarre. Some people might think that’s silly.

Bayla:
Maybe those people haven’t spent fifteen years in a cubicle, suffering all manner of office ailments.

YC: That’s a good point. Could you give us an example of some of the ailments that your book addresses?

Bayla: Certainly. There are many recognized office maladies, most of which go untreated. For example, the anguish of Office Myopia can be debilitating.

YC: Office myopia?

Bayla: Sometimes an office worker will become so attuned to the details of their own assignment that they lose sight of the bigger picture. This is an important aspect of “Planned Knowledge Deficit”, a common strategy for managing teams of workers, but it can be devastating to the solitary office worker.

YC: So what’s the solution?

Bayla: The Common Raccoon Focal Position. By blocking your peripheral vision while sitting on your desk, you learn to concentrate only on the task at hand.

YC: But wasn’t that the very problem you were trying to fix—too much focus?”

Bayla: Yes. So I incorporate morsel distancing with this technique. By placing an attractive food item on your extended leg you are forced to look outward.

YC:
How could that possibly help?

Bayla: That’s where the animals come in. In this case the Common Raccoon inspires diffused focus.

YC: hmmmm….. and what exactly are your credentials?

Bayla: (Ignoring the question once again) Let me give you another example. Many office workers suffer from Cooler Phobia, an irrational resistance to the task of replacing the water cooler.

YC: Why is it irrational? Isn’t it an unpleasant task?

Bayla: Unpleasant, yes, but often misunderstood. The only effective treatment is the Glass Lizard Bucket Movement, as shown in the book.

YC: Yes, I see that on page 27. The model is pretending to lift buckets of imaginary water.

Bayla: Precisely. And with time those pretend buckets will be imagined to be heavier and heavier. Eventually the act of lifting water will become virtually second nature.

YC: Problem solved…

Bayla: Quite. And the descriptive text makes the photo self-explanatory.

YC: I see you include the Latin name of the animal inspiring the technique. Why is that?

Bayla: Any reputable medical journal includes Latin.

YC:
Would you consider The Official Guide to Office Wellness a medical journal.. up there with the British Medical Journal for instance?

Bayla: No, but the Latin names are accurate.

YC: OK…… Is the book intended as a serious work, or is it more of a spoof?

Bayla: What do you think?

YC: I think it’s hilarious, but not if you find that offensive.

Bayla:
Not at all. In fact, it won an IPPY award for humor.

YC: What’s an IPPY?

Bayla: Independent Publishers book award. It’s the largest book contest for independent publishers in the world. I took third place in the humor category.

YC: So it is supposed to be a spoof.

Bayla: Maybe. For sure it’s not intended as an actual exercise program. I suppose it’s more like therapy, you know—to make office workers laugh at the common problems we see in the cubicle arena.

YC: Well it certainly made me laugh.

Bayla: That proves it.

YC: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Bayla: Well, I created Bayla Publishing to produce and distribute The Official Guide to Office Wellness, and that’s going pretty well. I have a couple other book projects I’m mulling over, or maybe I’ll take on someone else’s book, if it’s something that appeals to me and is marketable.

YC: Where can people get a copy of your book, and how much does it cost?

Bayla:
You can get it on Amazon, and many bookstores carry it or can order it. It costs $17.95, US. You can also get an autographed copy from my website, www.baylapublishing.com.

YC: I understand you have a book signing coming up?

Bayla: That’s right. If you happen to be in Erie, Pennsylvania on December 15, 2007 from 1-3pm, I’ll be at the Borders bookstore near the Millcreek Mall. I’ll have a couple of my models on hand to demonstrate techniques from the book, with a writing and publishing workshop afterwards.

YC: Sounds like lots of fun. Maybe I’ll show up.

Bayla: That would be great. If you do I’ll buy you a mocha java.

YC: I do have one more question. I saw a picture of your cubicle, and it has a strange, broken trophy sitting on a stack of books. I understand the stack of books, and the elevated nature of the trophy. But what is the trophy for? What is it, exactly?

Bayla: Ah, the infamous trophy. [hesitates uncomfortably] Okay, I’ll tell you the story.

YC: At last…

Bayla: So I was working in an office where the cubicles were scheduled to be replaced. When the truck arrived with the new cubicles it was way overloaded. I guess the cubicle company was trying to save money by double-stacking.

YC: Unconscionable.

Bayla:
Totally. So without thinking, I ran out and tried to stop them.

YC: Why?

Bayla: I don’t know—I wasn’t thinking.

YC: Okay.

Bayla: I guess one of the workers was an illegal, and he thought I was with Immigration. He bolted, but when he jumped off the truck this trophy fell out and the figurine broke off. After the truck left one of my coworkers went back for the trophy and taped on the figurine with a piece of black tape. Over time it became a symbol for cubicle unity.

YC: Why?

Bayla: It just did.

YC: That’s it?

Bayla: That’s it. Cubicle unity. It’s all about Kyuboria.

YC:
That was your previous book, right?

Bayla: Sure was. But that’s another story.

YC: Sounds like another interview. {Both laugh] Well thanks so much for your time. Are you available to answer questions that our readers may have?

Bayla: Sure. Send any questions along and I’ll forward my answers.

YC: Thanks again.

Bayla:
My pleasure.

The Trophy in question:

Kyuboria.

“The Official Guide To Office Wellness,”

A little link love for the cubicle culture

It’s high time I reminded both myself and my readers that there are others who like to take a sardonic look at life in a cubicle. Take a look at any links I post here, who knows, they may be able to brighten up your day where I have failed :)

Some of my all time favorites include:

Badbosslogy.  
“Badbossology.com features completely free access to over 1200 articles and resources on solving problems with difficult managers.  To get started, we suggest that you review each of the types of resources below. You can safely email site material anonymously – just click on any content item’s “Email Link” option for details and a preview.”

Jobschmob 
” Seriously, we know work sucks. We know how monotonous and frustratingly hellish your commute is. We know what an unpleasant tool your boss can be and we know there’s at least one coworker who sucks the ever loving life out of you. To help alleviate the symptoms of work rot, browse our latest job stories and post your own (anonymously, of course).”

k8company at the Cube Farm Survival Guide
Do you feel like you’re just a cog in the big qheel that is today’s office? Even the smallest companies have their cubicles and their partitions and their ‘collaborative work environments’ (yak). Here are my musings on my own personal office sentence, some links I came up with to some sources of info and fun products for cube dwellers, and links to my CafePress shop, Cubicle Farm (including an original comic strip). Look for window posters to humanize your cube, great books to help you bone up and arm yourself against the adminisphere, and lots of other cubicle necessities that I find useful (and fun). It’s a CubiGanza!”

I think a cubiganza is like an extravaganza only better.

The Cubicle Survival Guide
Author and humorist James F. Thompson comments on everything from office etiquette to big city mayhem. The man behind “The Cubicle Survival Guide” once again manages to find himself in another unruly and oppressive environment: the concrete wilds of New York City.

Kyuboria 
William is living proof that working in a cubicle is bad for your mental health, and if he ever gets round to it, I will have the full story on his “home made trophy” 

And here’s a few links that will take you to a more “establishment” look at the culture:

Career journal (WSJ)

I love this piece by the Hindu from a few years back :

Working in a cubicle without doors calls for a culture that requires tact and decorum.

 

 


No cubicle culture !

BusinessWeek made an interesting observation about hearing aid manufacturer, Oticon recently. apparently the company, back in 1991 did away with all cubicles and left workers to get on with their own organization.

“At Oticon, a midsize Danish maker of hearing aids, the future started back in 1991. That’s when its chief executive, Lars Kolind, turned traditional notions of the workplace upside down. Kolind, a corporate renegade trained as a mathematician, swept away old structures. Workers were suddenly free to concentrate on any project and join any team.

Kolind’s radical idea was to transform the company’s once-stodgy culture into a free marketplace of ideas. He moved headquarters to a new location where none of the 150 employees had a permanent desk or office, only filing cabinets on wheels that they pushed from project to project. Meeting areas had no tables or chairs. He called it the spaghetti organization, because the place had no fixed structure yet somehow held together. Ideas bubbled up and turned into hits such as a new hearing aid that required less adjustment. Sales and profits soared. The company became a model for management creativity. Even CNN showed up to tape a segment. Yet as the company grew and went public, many of the old structures crept back.

Kolind eventually left, and these days there’s not much talk about his spaghetti revolution. Still, its spirit survives. None of the 500 head-office employees at Oticon has even a cubicle. The latest headquarters features few interior walls. Workers sit around the perimeter of the building at simple desks. They attend meetings on sofas in the middle of each floor.

The relaxed atmosphere helps retain top engineers, keeping Oticon at the forefront of innovation. Its unobtrusive Delta hearing aid has been a success. Sales of parent William Demant Holding Group, of which Oticon is the largest business, have grown 36% since 2002, to $927 million, while operating profit has risen 57%, to $232 million.

But some things have clearly changed. Everyone has a boss to whom they report and they no longer have total freedom to choose projects. That seems to suit people fine. A degree of freedom sparks creativity, but workers also crave leadership. The trick is striking the right balance. Says Mads Kamp, Oticon’s director of human resources: “People want to be led.”"

The full story is here, but what bothers me is it took BusinessWeek SIXTEEN YEARS to pick up on this story. not exactly cutting edge journalism there. Pretty good idea though. I wonder if any US companies might pick up on it? With the price of used office furniture these days, they could save a fortune.

Favorite Cubicle Culture Sites

Having trouble with your boss? Take a look at Badbossology. They have some good advice And you can anonymously email them your issues. That’s a good idea, I think.

Anyway they have some fun and useful ways of looking at things, and I especially like the “Dealing with incompetent leaders” That sure sounds familiar.

The Cubicle Survival GuideAnother fave, has to be “The cubicle survival guide.” It’s good to be able to inject some humor into work, which is a four letter word, as far as I ‘m concerned.

A good place to vent and rant about your boss is Jobschmob. You can anonymously batch, rave and rant online about your boss. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are serious, some of the rants would be funny.

And of course, my friend Kate over at the Cube Farm Survival Guide always has some soothing stuff on her site.

Say it aint so ! Cubicles are taking over the world.

http://youcube.us/wp-content/uploads/manga%20cafe1.jpgNot content with working in Cubicles, Sleeping in cubicles, and eating in Cubicles, the Japanese are apparently getting their entertainment in them too. I came across a reference to “Manga Cafes,” and wondered what they were, only to discover that A manga café or a manga kissa is a kind of cafe in Japan where people can read manga cartoon comics. IN CUBICLES. People pay for the time they stay in the café. Most manga cafés also offer internet access like internet cafés and vice versa, making the two terms mostly interchangeable in Japan. For an hour stay, the cost is generally about 400 yen, with most places requiring customers to pay this as a minimum even if leaving earlier. Some manga cafés offer a service where one can rest for the night and even have a shower if need be. Diane has some interesting information about not just the cafes, but all things iconic here.

Apparently, Manga Cafes are making appearances all over the world springing up in London, Paris and Singapore.

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*Shudder*

Cubicle Windows

In any given office, the chances are that there is stiff competition for a cubicle with a window. It doesn’t take an expert mathematician to work out that most of the cubicles are NOT going to have a cherished window. So after all the office infighting is over, and you manage to persuade your boss to give you that “cube with a view,” there’s a good chance you’ll be looking out over an industrial landscape of directly into another office across the way. Here is a nice view, albeit more offices.

But what if you can make your own view? Or but it? Yes, that’s right, you can buy your own view. Sound s too good to be true? Well, it is, but my friend Kate, over at The Cube Farm Survivors will sell you the next best thing. I didn’t realize it, but Kate has some great “View” for sale up at CafePress. This is one of the, a view out of a kitchen window. So if you are sick to death of looking at a grey partition, take a wander over there. It sounds like a damn good idea to me, and Kate has loads of “Views” to choose from.

Overdoing the cubicle decorations.

Cubicle culture is no different than any other culture. At some point, a line is drawn and the group says, “Do not step over this line.” There will always be people who step over the line and this article is dedicated to those willing to push the boundaries of decent behaviour in a cubicle. Of course, there’s a fine line between decorations and junk. You decide which is which.

Is it Art or is it Junk? 

Good reminders here:

Headphones

A little while ago, I ran a feature on someone giving away a free set of headphones. That got me thinking about the usefulness of a decent pair of noise reducing headphones to wear in your cubicle. After exhaustive research I have concluded that the best headphones are Bang and Olufsen’s A8 earphones. I want a pair even more than I want the Vmoda Vibes FiddyP is giving away. These are now top of my Christmas list. In the meantime, think about treating yourself to something similar?

For me, one of the main distractions of working in a cubicle is the noise from my neighbours, so who knows, after Christmas, it may be less of a problem. (I hope my wife is reading this, hint, hint.)

WidgetBucks – Trend Watch – WidgetBucks.com

Cubicle Doorbell

I love this gadget. As the manufacturers claim, at last, “there is a civilized way for visitors to announce their arrival at your cubicle entrance.” A Velcro-attached cubicle doorbell. What a great idea. If anyone has tried it, I would love to hear what you think of it.

It makes a nice change from people barging in unannounced, although I have a feeling no one will ever remember to change the batteries, so it’s likely got a limited lifespan. At least there are batteries included. You can buy them direct from cubicaller.com