Many full-time professionals who work in the typical office environment spend more than 2000 hours a year in a cubicle. If you code or work for one of those tech firms the rest of us have been sending resumes to for the last 12 years, it’s probably about twice that figure.
If we can turn our thoroughly modern cubicles into positive workspaces, there’s a good chance those 2000 hours will be far more productive. After some in-depth research, we’ve identified 7 solid ways to make your cubicle into a positive workspace. Some of these involve changing your cubicle furniture, some involve changing your attitude.
1. Feng Shui Your Cubicle
The practice of feng shui dates back to 4000 BC. Its application to office cubicles and office cubicle furniture is a much later development. People spend their lives devoted to feng shui. We can’t go into that kind of depth here, so let’s just hit a couple of important ideas you can apply to your office cubicle. First, arrange your space so you can see the entrance when you’re sitting at your desk. It may be hard to accomplish, but seeing the entrance is something every person has the need to do. Next, get some energy flowing by bringing in something living, like an odd number of plants. Also, a water feature would be great.
2. Pimp Your Cubicle
If the mystery of Asian philosophy is too, well, mysterious for you, maybe you need to take a different approach to making your office cubicle an enjoyable and positive place to work. Most of us have seen what Xzibit has done with cars on MTV’s “Pimp My Ride”; bring some attitude into the office. A great way to add some style that is also functional is with a cool lamp or two or some modern office furniture. One enterprising cubicle dweller made a rainbow out of Post-It notes. Reverend Smoothello G. Debaclous—aka Turk Regan—has written a whole book on the subject—although the book, “Pimp My Cubicle,” is only 64 pages long.
3. Throw a Changeup
If feng shui is too mystical and you don’t have the attitude to pull off a full pimping of your office, just rearrange things. It’s a trick savvy wives have been doing for years. The same environment day after day slowly wears you down. Move your cubical furniture and decorations around. Set up a schedule that has you regularly changing the obligatory cubicle “three P’s and one C”—photographs, postcards, plants and a calendar. Don’t still be staring at a picture of your son riding for the first time without training wheels when he’s entering his second year of college, and definitely get rid of that dead plant. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.
4. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Abraham Lincoln, who probably had more on his mind than either of us, once said, “I have found that most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” When you plop yourself down in your office cubicle, make the decision to have a positive attitude. You own your attitude. It is under your control.
5. Engage in Positive Socialization
I’m not necessarily recommending interoffice romances. I’ve seen some of those turn out wonderful and I’ve seen others cause both parties to crash and burn beyond recognition. However, if you find that most of the socialization you do within the walls of your office cubicle revolve around grousing about various coworkers, that’s not positive. Find friends in the office who share positive interests with you.
6. Have an Attitude of Gratitude
There are a lot of good workers who spent years doing their jobs within the confines of an office cubicle who find themselves a contributing statistic to the “long-term unemployed.” You’re still merrily working away at your desk. That, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing. Be grateful. A positive attitude of gratefulness makes step number four—Don’t worry, be happy—much easier. Count your blessings instead of sheep, but don’t fall asleep on the job! And, now that we have you happy, socialized and full of gratitude, it takes us to our seventh way to make your cubicle a positive work environment.
7. Perform Random Acts of Kindness
Be kind to your coworkers. When you do kind acts for others it helps build your own sense of satisfaction and well-being. We have probably all been around and admired generous, thoughtful and giving people. For some reason, they seem to have the most positive and contented attitudes. Can it be true that it is better to give than to receive and that we reap what we sow? I believe the answer is yes.