There Are Not Enough Cubes!!!!!

Colored CubesSo here is an interesting fact about the cubicle kingdom, ECOs have trouble figuring out the right number of cubites to utilize to get their projects accomplished and make the financial performance they promised.  What that generally means is that you have new cubites parachuting into the kingdom regularly with all of the existing kingdom cubites scratching their heads as they watch.

We look on in disbelief because no one ever knows what these fresh faces are supposed to be doing….including the ECOs…..and no one knows where they are supposed to sit since the kingdom was already full before they dropped in.  And another consequence is that the number of parking spaces is inadequate.

This inevitably leads to a couple of crazy things happening….

  • People are shoved into cubicles in new and creative ways….

Crowded Cubes

  • Drastic measures occur in the car park by employees to ensure they do not get stuck in the ‘remote’ secondary lot.

Bad Parking

In the case of my company (where of course these are problems) they secured secondary parking down the street.  But of course no one wants to park there because it requires exercise to reach ones’ cubicle, and the path ‘may’ be poorly lit and require crossing a busy road….but come on cubites, this makes commuting a sport!!!!

So here is what I have come to as a solution….and I’m going to submit it to our Kaizen team which is that crazy group that looks at making ‘minor’ improvements in multiple areas to increase efficiency for the whole company (all phony money of course!).

OK, so my idea is….drum roll please…..limit the number of employees to the number of parking spaces…..crazy, I know!!!!  I’m sure that I will win an award or something from the company and be heralded as a genius of modern business design!  True it’s not as sexy as the suggestion of putting water coolers more frequently around the office so people don’t have to spend as much time walking to get water…….

But hey, a guy can dream can’t he? :-)

 

Secret of Survival #2: Leave Your Brain Outside

brain

I am often asked “Jack, how do you keep from going crazy in the cubicle kingdom dealing with the ECOs?….they always are changing their minds and slowing progress on projects with their crazy requests for 15 ‘status’ reports and multiple ‘alignment’ meetings and not being able to make a decision!”.

Well, my answer is simple….leave your brain outside the cubicle.  Have a nice resting spot for it in your car or locker in the building, but DO NOT TAKE IT INTO YOUR CUBE!!!!!  Doing so is like mixing matter and anti-matter….BOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!Exploding headYou see, when you try to use your brain at work you get all wrapped up in trying to think logically, and that is never a good thing because….well….work and ECOs are illogical.

spok-illogicalIn fact, I have yet to see any situation in the cubicle kingdom that really makes any sense.  Strategies, goals, budgets, HR, products developed, ‘action plans’, ‘tiger teams’, and on and on.

People come to my cube to vent and be consoled about their ‘unique’ situation….and all I tell them is “stop using logic”.  They usually shake their heads and walk away knowing my advice is sound.

Then when I see them later in the day I ask how things are going and they repond with a smile on their face “wonderful!, I was able to force that square peg into the round hole and got a big pat on the back by my ECO!”

….I rest my case :-)

It’s Goal Time….Make Them Count!

goalsHello Cubites…..welcome to 2016!

Hopefully by now you’ve gotten back in your dreary cubicle routine after the relaxing holidays and tons of time off. :-)

Or, if you’re like me it’s a toss-up which was worse….spending the holidays with family in a cramped house, or only getting one day off for Xmas and one for New Year’s.  Maybe you were lucky and had some vacation time left and were able to take a couple days…..to spend in your cramped house with relatives that you only see once a year and barely know.

Wow, now I’ve depressed myself with flashbacks……time for some old spiked eggnog to make me feel better……or give me stomach issues….but hey, then I can stay home tomorrow!!!!! :-)

OK, so on to the real topic of today’s post……setting your 2016 goals to keep the ECOs happy and show you’re dedicated to your cubicle existence.

First of all, I like to work from the principle “start low and work up”.  What does that mean you ask?  Well, it means don’t try to think of some crazy lofty goal that you think will impress your ECO boss, because it won’t.  If you give them an inch, they’ll smile and ask for two….then four….then eight…..and you get the picture.

So start with something simple, like ‘getting to work on time’ or ‘filing my weekly report by Friday’.  These give you a lot of room for over-performance….and that means a better review and bigger raise!  If instead you choose something like ‘launch product X by June’ you are simply doomed for failure and a poor review.  And trying to make excuses for underperformance to ECOs never works…..NEVER!!!!!

Next, building off of my example of a poor goal above, don’t commit to any completion or delivery dates sooner than Q4….. or December 31, 2016 if you can get away with it.  This will help to keep ECOs off your back since they will take your date and put it in THEIR goals.  And that means they will ride you like the picture below…..

Fat Man on Donkey….because they want to make sure they look good to their bosses.

Finally, make sure to select a goal that will make your ECO boss look good.  Maybe you can suggest to ‘pick up their dry cleaning twice a week’ or ‘wash their car’ every month.  Whatever you choose here, just make sure it’s of a low enough level that you can over perform….because as I’ve preached, over performing in the ECO’s eyes is the key to getting that super review and a big fat raise!

Good luck!…..and start planning what you’re going to do with that big raise next year! :-)

 

Rule of Survival #1: Look Busy!

Carrying Paper In order to make it in the cubicle kingdom, it’s very important to know and live by the “Cubicle Weenie Rules of Survival”.

Today we’re going to review Rule #1:  Always Look Busy

I’m sure this is advice you’ve heard before and are saying “ya ya Lead Cubite, tell me something I don’t know!”.

Well……the key is in HOW you look busy.  And that’s where most advice columns and ‘experts’ get things wrong.  So I’m going to cover my suggestions below.  Because if you’re not convincing then you’re creating an even bigger problem for yourself…..Overseer scrutiny!

So one trick I like to use is to always walk around with a pad of paper and pen (as seen above).  This makes it look like you are always going to or coming back from a meeting.  And make sure to have some scribbles on the paper so it looks like you’ve been busy taking notes.  It doesn’t matter what’s actually written, just that SOMETHING is written.  So let’s see what’s on my important list….

Carrying Paper Zoomed

Hmmmmm…..groceries, the phone bill, lunch plans……sounds like I was at a very important meeting, huh? :-)

Another trick I like to use is to ‘walk with a purpose’.  This means don’t amble wherever you’re going….walk with a brisk gate and a determined / focused look on your face…..like if you don’t make it to the restroom you’re going to have a mess in your pants!  This will make everyone think you’ve got a lot going on….even if you’re just heading around the halls for exercise or down to the coffee bar for a little ‘pick me up’!

That’s all for now…..I’ve got a very important meeting to go to! :-)

Laying Out the Perfect Cubicle

IMG_0566[1]

OK, today we’re going to discuss the perfect cubicle design.  How you lay out your cube is very important because it can help you either survive or perish in the cubicle kingdom.

Item #1 – Placement of your monitor and chair
This is important for obvious reasons….you don’t want people walking by to see what you’re REALLY doing.  This allows you to pass the time reading your favorite book, blog, website, or anything else while still looking busy.  And if anyone walks by you can always have a frustrated look on your face like you’re working on something important so they’ll just keep on walking.

Item #2 – Papers and folders and books laid out on your desk
Using this technique, it always looks like you have a lot going on and people will be impressed…especially the ECOs.  They’ll be afraid to give you more work or try to pawn their work off to you because you might loose it and start running around the office like a crazy person.  Fear is a powerful weapon with ECOs :-)

Item #3 – Hiding spot for naps
Since ECOs believe that work is only being done when their Cubites are at their desks, it’s important to be able to be on display at all hours.  This means that for most ‘normal’ people a nap is required to make it through a ‘supposed’ 12 hour day.  Alas the need for a nap spot.  I usually put mine behind a set of horizontal filing cabinets (see picture).  And don’t forget to put a sticky note on your monitor saying ‘In Meetings – Back at X o’clock’.

Good luck and happy napping!

My Presence is to Balance the HVAC System

REMIEJAMESHeatmiserSnowMiser

This week one of my colleagues came into my cube….uninvited of course…..and wanted to know what I was working on.

I looked at this individual and said “I’m helping balance the HVAC system”.

Confused, my colleague gave me that “WTF” expression and said ‘Huh?” with a crinkled up nose.

I said that me simply sitting in my cube kept the HVAC balanced and the office at a comfortable temperature.  And if I were to leave then the system would get unbalanced and either freeze up or overheat.

Needless to say my colleague just shook their head and left my cube.

Smiling, I turned back to my console and continued my ebook! :-)

Tortured by Spring Views

62219__view-of-spring_p

With Spring here it’s time to talk about a favorite torture method of the Evil Cubicle Overseers (ECOs)…..forcing cubicle dwellers to look outside while keeping them chained to their desks.  In wars it’s called ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.  But in our daily Cubite lives it’s just business as usual.

I was driving around this week running errands and drove through a couple office parks that had little green open spaces nestled between the buildings.  There were some walking trails, some exercise equipment, and everything was turning green.  Do you know how many people I saw actually taking advantage of this nature….ZERO!  That’s because they were all locked up in their cubicle kingdoms.

eating-at-desk
Credit: Nuserve.co.uk

And the picnic tables are always a particularly comical accessory….like anyone actually has time to go outside and sit down to have lunch!  Once again everyone is chained to their desk eating microwaved Hot Pockets or Lean Cuisines…..or a big bowl of spaghetti like this guy.

Several times I’ve tried to work from the outside patio at the cubicle kingdom I’m assigned to.  Usually during the spring or fall when the temperatures are perfect and I can find shade so as to still see my laptop screen.  The responses from both ECOs and my fellow Cubites have been amazing.

The ECOs naturally think I’m avoiding their assignments and working on my tan.  ‘How can anyone concentrate and be productive if they’re not at their desks?’ they ask one another while staring at me outside like I’m a feature at a zoo.

My fellow Cubites look at me aghast that I have exited the kingdom….and continue watching me like an experiment to see if I’m going to explode or melt or simply dissolve away because I’ve broken the kingdom rules.

But I don’t…..I simply get work done and enjoy the weather! :-)

What Are We Called?????

Cubite 1Before I dive into telling stories about my life in the cubicle kingdom, I want to take a post and share with you a few of my definitions about cube life.  First of all, those of us that toil away day after day in cubes are called ‘Cubites’ (pictured above).  The world we live in goes by many names, but I like ‘Cubicle Kingdom’ because we are really like serfs, ruled over by ‘Evil Cubicle Overseers’…..or ECOs, and we have our little plot of land to use to try and produce something useful for the ECOs.Evil Mgr

To envision an ECO, just look at this picture above.

Look familiar? I’m sure it does.  And this poor sap is just getting a request to get his reports in on-time.  Imagine if the ECO was REALLY upset!

 

 

 

 

What Is That Smell ?!?!?!?!

Stinky Fish

I thought we’d begin our adventure of exploring the cubicle kingdom by discussing one the lovely traits associated with our daytime homes…..the smells.

Have you ever noticed how your office usually takes on the aroma of a crazy cross between a street market, a strip club, and a musty basement that hasn’t seen the light of day for 30 years? Oh, and don’t forget the dry erase markers….enjoying those during meetings is the office equivalent of hanging out in a drug house…..and it’s legal!!!!!!!

Every day I try to breath really deeply on my way to work (without passing out and running into a light pole) to get as much fresh air into my lungs before I descend into the deep caverns of stale recycled air that is my office building.  And then when I escape the caverns after work my first breaths are like a 20 year smoker experiencing fresh air for the first time….lots of coughing and hacking.

It starts in the morning with all the guys and gals showing up fresh from applying WAY too much cologne and perfume.  And when you walk the halls it’s like passing through the exhaust trails of cars and airplanes…..the odors linger for minutes!  And it doesn’t take long to learn everyone’s scents….just like in the wild.  There goes Bill…there goes Nancy…..wow so and so must be desperate today…..and did that manager REALLY pay for something to smell that way?!?!?

Then there’s lunch……sometime between 11 and 11:30 the smells of all sorts of foods waft their way over the cubicle walls to burn your nostrils.  Many times I come home smelling like I’ve been working in a restaurant all day.  Chinese, Indian, Italian, pizza joint, burger joint, fried everything joint….you name it, I’ve eaten there without eating there.

And kinda finally there are the musty book smells that emanate from the fuzzy cubicle walls and carpet that are ‘sort of’ cleaned ‘somewhat’ regularly.  In my office the carpets are cleaned by a Zamboni looking thing, and once it passes by it definitely does NOT smell Fabreeze fresh!….more like ‘stick my head in a sewer’ fresh…..

And let’s not even mention the mysterious and deadly odors that seep out of the toilets……that’s for another post….

Right now I need to go get some fresh air……whew…..