Origin of the Cubicle & 4 Style Tips to Up Your Work Game

Origin of the Cubicle & 4 Style Tips to Up Your Work Game

In the 1950s and 60s office environments were large, crowded, and filled with rows of metal or wood desks while the top executives worked out of private offices. For those two decades, it was difficult for office workers to hear and focus on their work amid the telephone calls, shouting, and smoking. In 1968 designer Robert Propst created the cubicle under the name "Action Office II". His first version “Action Office I” was applauded by designers, however companies were not accustomed to buying “individual desk furniture” for their employees and it never sold. Soon after companies were able to write off office furniture with a new tax code, and businesses bought cubicles whose value depreciated over time to write off assets. Instead of maintaining Robert Propst’s original vision of an open, free flowing office with cubicles of different heights, designs, and generous desk space, many businesses purchased crammed-in, much smaller cubicles sold as knock off’s to Propst’s original design.

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Today offices have adopted a kinder cubicle culture that encourages workers to keep the noise down, respect other people’s space, and minimize interruptions. Looking back to Propst’s original concept of a refined, unique, and individualized workspace designed to make us more productive, we can understand why enhancing our own cubicle work space is so important. So let’s talk style.

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1) Why should I style my cubicle?

The cubicle is not only your workspace but also a reflection of who you are. When people see your cubicle, it sends a direct message about your work ethic, personality, professionalism, and brand. If you visualize your cubicle right now, what do you see? Does it match you and your brand? Does it reflect what you’ve worked for and will it get you to where you intend on going? Your cubicle space is just as important as your work wardrobe. Is it professional and inviting? Does it inspire you to be more productive? Does it calm you when you need a recharge? Does it help you to be more efficient and creative?

2) Invest in Yourself by De-Cluttering

Invest in desk organizers, calendars, and office equipment that assist you in being more efficient and focused. It will come back to you tenfold!

Invest in desk organizers, calendars, and office equipment that assist you in being more efficient and focused. It will come back to you tenfold!

First and foremost, a clean office space is necessary above all style tips. Invest in desk organizers, calendars, checklist boards, and file cabinets that help you to be more clear and focused in your work. A cluttered desk is nothing to be proud of and inherently sends the message to others that you are unorganized and inefficient. After each project, organize your desk space and tidy up before moving on to the next. Just as a mechanic needs their tools to work on a vehicle, you also require the necessary tools to complete your work. Walmart, Target, and Amazon.com have a variety of stylish, economical desk and office organization tools to assist you with your best workday.

Invest in office organizers, such as, shelving, file cabinets, and desk organizers to make it your best work day ever!

Invest in office organizers, such as, shelving, file cabinets, and desk organizers to make it your best work day ever!

3) Biophilia

Adding fresh greenery to your cubicle space will boost your mood, increase productivity, and decrease stress. (Spider Plant shown above)

Adding fresh greenery to your cubicle space will boost your mood, increase productivity, and decrease stress. (Spider Plant shown above)

90% of our time is spent indoors! If you don’t have the luxury of an office window looking out to nature, chances are you are missing out on the restorative properties of “biophilia.” This is the concept that humans innately crave a connection to nature for wellness. Compare this to an animal in a zoo living in a concrete enclosure without plants or wildlife vs. an animal living on a wildlife preserve surrounded by their natural habitat. Obviously, the animal in the wildlife preserve surrounded by nature is happier and more well adjusted. We are at our best when we have access to greenery, fresh air, and natural light. Decorate your cubicle with fresh cut flowers or a desktop plant or two to connect with nature. The three best plants for artificial lighting in office cubicle environments are the pothos, ZZ plant, and spider plant. Unless you have a window, steer away from terrariums and succulent displays. They have a tendency to sit in their own water and decay when they don’t have access to sunlight. Additionally, if your fresh cut flowers are no longer fresh, toss them out! If your plant isn’t thriving and looks dead, remove it immediately. Decaying organic matter attracts bugs, emits odors, and is a downer for everyone in your office. Always keep it fresh!

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4) Create a Balance

On our office visits to maintain plants, we’ve seen hundreds of cubicles! The perfect cubicle has a balanced ratio of personal and professional items. People want to get to know you and you should feel proud to showcase pictures of your family, friends, and pets. If you have a favorite sports team, select one or two items to put on display with their logo. Be mindful in balancing what you display as your personal interests to avoid looking like your teenager’s bedroom. Always keep in mind that you are in an office and what you display for everyone to see is a direct reflection of your professionalism, character, and values. The cubicle is a sacred space because it is where you spend most of your day. You want it to reflect your work ethic, values, ability to organize, and lead. Keep it positive, balanced, and professional!

Enjoy restyling your cubicle to make it your best work day ever! Just as designer Roger Propst wanted it to be.

Thank you and Keep Growing!

Sabrina Keim

Interior Plantscaper / Owner of Mission Plant Co.

Video Blog: Origin of the Cubicle & Style Tips!

Video Blog: Origin of the Cubicle & Style Tips!

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