what does my minimalist cubicle decor say about me?

A reader writes:

I have been working at the same office for the last several years, first one out of college. It’s a good job but I’ve just accepted another position in the company that has a lot of great potential, and I will be transitioning over to my new group within the next few weeks.

When it comes to cubicle decoration, I’m a minimalist. It’s just not my thing. I have one picture of my wife and daughters and a calendar with my favorite team on it, and that’s all I need. While in conversation about my departure with a manager in my current group, she remarked, “Oh and by the way, look, we all know you’re a good guy and all down here, but these people you’re going to be working with now don’t know you from a hole in the wall, so you should spruce up this sterile cube of yours so they don’t think you’re just passing through.”

Is this a valid assumption? Does my cubicle decor really relay my professional intentions to all? Should I just fake up some decorations and knick-knacks for appearances sake? Am I crazy? I never really thought about this before, ever, until now.

I mean, it wouldn’t kill you to bring in a desk lamp and throw an art print or something up on your wall, but it’s far from obligatory. Some people are more minimalist than others when it comes to their work space, and that’s completely fine. I’m sure that if you take a look around your company, you’ll find plenty of others who take your same approach.

Smile and thank your old manager for her advice. But you can get to know your new coworkers by, you know, talking to them rather than relying on your cubicle decor to send coded messages.

{ 77 comments… read them below }

  1. Will Johnson*

    I’ve heard the whole “so they don’t think you’re passing through” comment before. It’s actually a very valid heuristic you can use.

    Everyone at jobs I have worked at who have nothing on their cubicle walls are out (by choice) within a year or so. I’m the same minimalist cube guy as well, but I put up corporate milestone gifts (like an anniversary card) and important handouts (like ones that tell you about certain database tables) and it makes my cube look much more lived in.

  2. Lesley*

    We had a joke at my old job that if you decorated your office/cube, it meant you were leaving soon…all the minimalist stuck around, while the decorators left quickly.

  3. Dawn*

    I enjoy having things to smile at on my desk at work (little artworks, a picture of my husband and I, a couple of plants, things given to me by friends) but it’s nothing I couldn’t pack in a box if I needed to. Where I work there’s plenty of people who have a ton of stuff on their desks, and there’s plenty of people who don’t have any personalization at all.

    For example, my boss has been with the company 13 years and all he has is a picture of his son tacked up in his office- he says it’s because he moves desks so much it makes it easier to move around.

    Bring in three or four pictures, maybe print out a Dilbert cartoon or something, and call it a compromise.

  4. ChristineH*

    Agree with you AAM. Other than perhaps having work-related “cheat sheets” or other helpful materials, I rarely personalize my workspace. But I can see how it can be a nice thing to have a family picture or a decoration related to a favorite sports team or entertainment figure (as long as it’s appropriate of course). However, I personally think the manager’s comments were a tad out of line. I don’t think one should feel compelled to decorate their cube if that’s not their style.

  5. JT*

    I’ve never decorated my office other than work-related materials. And have been with the same organization for more than 10 years (and many office moves).

    Those work-related materials include some “customization” of my space – reference books and other materials I needs such as a mousepad, etc. But no decoration.

    It seems to me the way to demonstrate commitment to an organization is through the work you do.

    And what’s going to happen to the OP in the sparse office: “Oh, we decided to not offer you a promotion since it looked like you were just passing through.” Really?!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Me too. I typically put up one or two framed prints and a photo or two. Other than that, my walls end up covered in work-related stuff — cheat sheets, project plans, and so forth. And honestly, I don’t even see any of it — when I work, I’m oblivious to my physical surroundings anyway. The only thing I really like is a window with snow falling outside of it, but that’s hard to conjure up on my own.

    2. Anonynmous_J*

      I tend to feel this way, too. Is it really anyone’s business how you decorate (or don’t) your workspace (within reason, of course! Leave the “girly calendars, etc.” at home!

      I mean, really. I’m at work to WORK. Not to join a club or whatever.

      I sit out in the open, so I don’t have anything personal on my desk. Why? Because things get stolen. I have an amusing Page-A-Day calendar, and that’s as far as it goes. I have been with my organization for 10 years. I think they know I’m not “just passing through.”

  6. Samantha*

    Wow that’s a new one on me. I have one picture of my cat and a cat calendar up. I’ve been here for 3 years.

    I think put up stuff if you feel comfortable doing so and WANT to do so. If you don’t then don’t.

    Why is this even an issue? Do your work and find your niche there and let the work relationships happen. They either will or they won’t and whether you have an art print of your cubicle wall or not won’t change that.

    1. JT*

      I don’t know about that AAM stuff – with all the interview and resume tips I might give the impression someone is job hunting ;-)

      1. Kristinyc*

        I keep my desk fairly minimalist, but I have a picture of my boyfriend and I, and a pretty coffee mug. At my previous job, I was one of 9 women (in an office of 60+ guys), so the picture of my boyfriend was VERY important so they I wouldn’t get hit on. :) (Which mostly worked…)

        I don’t even have paperwork on my desk- I bought really pretty folders and everything is filed in them, and they’re in a container on the desk. My computer background is a picture of my dog. I don’t display anything on my desk that I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about if anyone asked about it.

  7. a.b.*

    It is a little weird to see a practically empty cube and then find out someone actually works in it, and has for years. There is a certain coldness to that. Your boss may be trying to say it was hard for your coworkers to get to know you, not just because of your cubicle.

    1. The gold digger*

      My old boss had the same criticism of me. I had nothing personal in my office because it was work, not home. I was there to work. And I didn’t care if my co-workers “knew” me. I was there to do a job.

      I was eventually laid off, but that was years later and after I had succumbed to that boss’ pressure to decorate. He was fired shortly after I was laid off (he was not my boss when I was laid off), mostly because he, a true marketing guy, dared to challenge the VP, who had majored in engineering and knew nothing of marketing (or accounting or finance, but the company wanted a woman in that position so there you go).

      He used to get on me for my hours – I got in at 7:30 and left at 5:30 and didn’t work on Saturdays. He, on the other hand, was there at 6:00 a.m. and didn’t leave until later in the evening. Came in on Saturday. Played golf. And, btw, was really good at his job – he knew marketing inside and out. But playing the facetime game didn’t help him once the VP decided she didn’t like him.

  8. Anonymous*

    I find it kind of strange when people decorate their offices like they would their house. A woman I work with has an entire wall that is covered floor-to-ceiling with pictures of her two dogs. It’s a bit much, especially since we tend to hold meetings with clients in her office because she has more space.

  9. Anonymous*

    I have a fairly large office however I only have three small photos on my desk that no one can even see unless they sit down at my computer. I’m at work to work, not interior decorate. On the other hand, a recent hire’s office is already over run with art, pictures, lamps, etc. (and I personally thought “how odd” when I saw her office– it looks like a room in someone’s home at this point) I just don’t see the point. The only time I ever am inclined to decorate is for holidays– except it is so unimportant to me by the time I go to put the decorations in my car to bring them to work, the holiday is almost passed, and then once again it hits me- what’s the point! (No offense to those who decorate is meant by this.) I do think there is a line to be drawn at some point regarding decorating– it a professional work space, not your living room. Given that I have meetings in my office often, I’d prefer to lean towards the side of dull- boring-office than welcome-to-my-fabulous-space. I never even imagined it may appear I’m prepared to leave at any moment, hahaha. Oh well, I’m not, but at least I know if I were laid-off I would only have to take one painful trip to my car, as opposed to several :)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes! I’d rather see someone go to a minimalist extreme than go too far in the other direction, with every surface in their office over-decorated with photos, needlepoint, figurines, etc. It’s their prerogative either way, but too much starts to feel fussy at some point.

      1. E*

        I have to say the ones that really put me off are “Princess” with pictures of your myriad of single friends and all the little reminders that “you are special”

  10. Cat*

    So, your ex-manager said that your ex-colleagues “all know you’re a good guy”… and this was achieved with a minimalist cube. I’m confused. Or, rather, I think she’s confused. Does she also think that if your desk is clean you’re obviously not working hard enough?

    You were able to build relationships without tchotchkes the first time around, you can do it again.

    1. jmkenrick*

      Actually, I’m sort of wondering if maybe he is a quiet guy who keeps to himself/is hard to get to know, and she’s trying to encourage him to be more accessible, albeit in a round-about way.

  11. Anonymous*

    After needing to carry home six boxes of personal belongings on the subway from one job, I vowed never to keep more than a handful of personal effects at my desk. I still make it seem personable by printing out photos or my son’s artwork and posting those copies, but I don’t go crazy. Just a few images to share with my coworkers, and 1-2 other things like a mug (usually one I don’t care about). I try to find work-related decorations to fill out the space. At my last job, some people put fancy rugs, potted plants, and even couches in their cubicles–I would NOT want to deal with that abruptly!

    1. Anonymous*

      Ditto. It’s not until you abruptly leave a job that you appreciate minimal personal items in your cube. Like you, I decorate with work-related items and a mug I wouldn’t even bother walking to the kitchen to get if I was let go. There is nothing worse than spending hours cleaning out your cube when you’re upset. It’s even more uncomfortable for your co-workers.

      1. Anonynmous_J*

        There are also times when they don’t let you, or they only give you like 10 minutes to do so.

        I suppose if I loved my job, I would feel differently, but I just don’t feel it’s anyone’s business.

    2. Jamie*

      They brought in their own couches and floor coverings?

      That’s so strange. I’ve never worked in a place where people brought in their own furnishings.

  12. Lindsay H.*

    While I feel this seems like that scene from Office Space where 15 pieces of flair is good but not great, it reminded me of an amusing story an old boss told me. The quick and dirty version of the coversation went like this:

    Boss’s Boss: You should really bring in a few personal items to spruce up your office, especially since people get freaked out by HR anyway.

    Boss: What items? I’m unmarried without any kids.

    Boss’s Boss: Bring in a picture of a pet.

    Boss: I don’t have any pets.

    Boss’s Boss: It doesn’t even have to your dog. Just frame a picture and bring it in.

    Boss: If you say so . . .

      1. Anonymous*

        This actually happened to you? Whoa. Also, Office Space is EXACTLY what I thought of when I saw this.

        “You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair? “

        1. Lindsay H.*

          Yeah, it happened to my boss, and we were laughing about it afterwards. I was working at Target at the time. I told my boss it’d be funny if he went to sales floor, bought a frame, left the price tag on, and put it in his office.

          Quasi-related: On my last day at Target there was cake in the team member lounge, and I didn’t get a piece. I almost pulled a Milton and burned the place down.

  13. Anonymous*

    Really interesting write-up on exactly this topic at ThinkVitamin. Zappos and 37Signals are at the polar opposites, featured in the article. (http://thinkvitamin.com/web-industry/37signals-vs-zappos/)

    I think, as in all things, strive for moderation. Extremely minimalist sort of looks like you’ve packed up and are heading to your next job. Floor to ceiling pictures of cats or kids is not really right either.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Wow, I would go crazy in that Zappos office, surrounded by all that clutter. Although the 37Signals office is really on the other end of the extreme and kind of sterile.

      1. Anonymous*

        It says in the article the Zappos pic is of the call center, which is a job where focus is not a problem but making people happy is. I think the office is a perfect medium for getting the job done. 37Signals is programmers, where long term attention and focus are key, and that environment reflects that.

        Oooh though, just saw the link in the comments to the Etsy offices. (http://mashable.com/2010/10/13/etsy-office-pics/) Love the “giant plushy” office, and the superhero phone booth!

        1. Anon*

          The Etsy office looks like the perfect medium between Zappos and 37Signals. It’s funky and fun without the claustrophobic (to me) feel of Zappos and more personalized than 37Signals. If I had to choose though, I would take 37Signals any day over Zappos. It would drive me crazy! (and I work in a call center too)

          1. Anonynmous_J*

            Etsy’s a creative company, full of artists. For them, it’s appropriate to have this kind of stimulation.

            It’s called a “visionary environment.” That’s kind of what my and my BF’s studio at home is like, though it’s not cluttered.

      2. fposte*

        It fascinates me that introvert Nick Hsieh has deliberately created such an extrovert-encouraging company as Zappo’s. Another demonstration of the wisdom of not remaking your staff in your own image, I guess.

        1. fposte*

          Heh. I was trying so hard to get the last name right that I screwed up the first name. He’s Tony. I wonder who Nick is?

      3. Dawn*

        I definitely could not deal with being in the Zappos office! I saw it once on TV and that level of clutter and distraction would make me very unproductive and, well, distracted. I can’t even deal with hearing music outside my office or hearing people talk.

        1. fposte*

          Though I note that the big blue tent person has found a way to be colorful and playful and also wall off everybody else. Pretty inventive.

    2. Esra*

      Oh man, that Zappos office would drive me up the wall. I used to work in a cube farm for a big corporation’s web team. We were all in the same building, but our floor was utterly minimalist and sales looked an awful lot like the Zappos office. I hated going up for meetings there.

  14. Katie*

    As long as your cube isn’t filled with trash and old food, I really don’t see any issues. (I’ve witnessed this. It’s disturbing.)

  15. Joey*

    I do the minimalist thing. The only personal things you’ll find in my office are my coffee mug, a wallet sized pic of my fam taped to my screen and a cheap Ikea lamp (which I only have bc I hate the cold office fluorescents). I do it for a couple of reasons: 1. I’m cheap; 2. I’ve seen way too many people make a spectacle on their way out and have to bring boxes or make special trips. If I leave I prefer to leave under the cover of darkness- I hate the goodbye crap you have to go through when everyone sees you leaving a mile away; and 3. I’m cheap.

  16. Lemon Meringue*

    I had a similar thing happen to me – when I was preparing to leave my former job, my boss was ticking off the ways in which I had “outed” my interest in leaving (being one of those places, as AAM says, that did NOT earn the right to more than two weeks’ notice, or really even enable employees to give more), and she mentioned my never-decorated office as a “giveaway” that I wasn’t planning to stay long.

    I held my tongue and didn’t tell her that the reason I hadn’t decorated was more because I didn’t want to start to associate my miserable job with things I actually liked (a favorite landscape, etc). Surviving that job involved a LOT of compartmentalization.

    I hadn’t thought about decorating with things that weren’t personally significant, though, and I actually kind of like that idea.

    1. Imalemontoo*

      Thanks! Glad to know I am not the only one who doesn’t want to associate the pleasant and happy things in my life with a miserable environment, work and nosey people! Minimalist for me, less clutter that way for one thing. Besides the environment is one of being terminated at any time so I figured the less I have to carry out the better.

  17. Tami*

    One place I temped at (a large company, something like the #5 employer in my county) had a “no personal effects” policy for cubicles. I found that odd – and I am a minimalist. I currently have a decorative mirror, a picture of my husband and a certificate. While I am a temp, I don’t think my decorating tendencies (or lack thereof) have anything to do with how long I see myself being there. My last regular-employment position was with a company I would have loved to work for very long-term – and still I barely decorated there, either.

  18. mb*

    Others have stated this already, but here’s my guess.

    It’s possible that your old manager was giving you a hint on how s/he knows Management thinks–in that the ‘idea’ that cubicle decoration indicates a desire to stay long-term rather than move on quickly. Maybe this idea has come up for discussion in their management meetings? Maybe it’s an idea the CEO has mentioned?

    This comment may not be so much ‘you should’ as it is ‘here’s a hint about the internal culture for this company that could benefit you in the future.’

  19. Anonymous*

    OP, you’re not crazy. I’ve never really thought of this before either. I don’t feel what we choose to put in our offices or cubes says anything about how long we plan to stay. Some of people just don’t like clutter.

    When I look around our office here, and our other location, it’s amusing, and sometimes down right strange, to see what people like to put in their work space. One person has dancing flowers and a furry dog that breathes. Another has photos of her and her family, and in each picture she has cut out her head and replaced it with a cutout from a magazine. Weird. Another person practically has a shrine to himself – his shelves are full of awards and pictures of himself. Me, I have a bulletin board full of office-related cartoons I’ve collected over the years and a couple knick knacks showing my love of cats. Oh, and I have a fuzzy AFLAC duck that quacks “AFLAC” when you sqeeze his tail.

    1. Anonymous*

      I used to have a hand crochet ducky that held M&Ms. When you squeezed it…well, let’s just say it’s called a “Poop Duck”. Someone stole it! It was very popular. I guess you had to be there.

      1. Long Time Admin*

        Love that!

        I had a plastic wind-up penguin that pooped out colored candy. I used to offer people “penguin poop”. Some said no right away without asking what the heck that was.

    2. jmkenrick*

      Unrelated fact: I know the owner of the original AFLAC duck. She was about 12 and owned a pet duck, given to her by her grandfather, if I remember correctly, and her Dad worked for the ad agency hired by AFLAC to help develop their campaign. She was a nice girl & it’s such a random claim to fame!

  20. KayDay*

    Am I the only person who gets annoyed when people read way too much into the most mundane things. I bet for ever person who ascribes to the “passing through” view, there is someone who thinks that more than minimalist decor makes it look like you want to be at home and are not focused on work. In my offices most people never decorated their offices (almost everyone had their own office); but no one thought that it was weird when one person did. People need to stop having little tricks that they think “tell me so much about who a person *really* is.” Seriously, let the person in question tell you who they really are.

    ok. rant over.

    1. Jamie*

      I agree that 99.9% of the things people read into have no meaning whatsoever…sometimes a clean desk is just a clean desk.

      I’ve never known anyone else who did this, so it may just be a weird quirk of mine, but when I am really feeling the pressure or going through a bad patch at work – I do take the four small toys off my desk and toss them in a drawer. I also remove the wallpaper on my monitors.

      It’s not a deliberate signal – it’s just my own coping mechanism – but when asked about it I freely admit that I do spartan when overwhelmed.

      The upside is that people know that if my desk looks sterile it is not the time to ask me a non-work related computer question or stop by for a chat about non-essential issues which could be better handled via email.

      In my case it is my tell.

    2. E*

      I had (a now CEO) come through the office and commented “a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind” – my desk has been minimalist ever since

  21. Meaghan*

    Yeah, this immediately reminded me of the Office Space “flair” requirements. “If you want to be the type of employee who only has the minimum, well, we really can’t stop you….”

    1. Anonynmous_J*

      The temptation to do Jennifer Aniston’s bit about “This is me expressing myself!” would be overwhelming. :P

  22. curious*

    This is interesting. At my first company, I didn’t have a regular desk, I could just plug in in whichever office I was at. So this meant being very organised or at least as paper free as possible. At my next 2 jobs, I had a fixed desk and desk walls. I never put anything too personal on my desk because I felt that making my workspace look like a living room or counselling parlour would lead to me being taken less seriously in the workplace (You are right Kay Day). I had one postcard picture of my hometown at night. Also, if a visiting colleague from another office happens to need to use my desk when I am out, a clean and clear workspace is much more welcoming and respectful.

  23. Ask an Advisor*

    I wonder how much is this an issue of fit more than anything else? Really, I think it comes down to office culture and what your office space needs to represent. If your office space fits into the department culture, it shouldn’t be an issue either way.

    My current office is consistent with the culture of my office and has all sorts of decorations with a comfy rocking chair for my students because I want it to be a warm, welcoming, and comfortable space for them. On the other hand, when I was working in a non-profit where I didn’t see clients in the office, my space was minimal and consistent with that culture.

  24. Amber*

    My company moved into a new suite about 4 months ago, and right now there is a ton of empty spots in the office. Almost everyone who works here has some kind of decorations at their desk or in their offices, even if it’s just a few pictures or a funny poster or a unique coffee cup and in this half empty office, it really helps make it not feel so weird and echo-y. It’s like little islands of personality in between the sea of empty space.

    Even before we moved here, though, I was always one of “those people” who had a decked out cube. I’m a Hello Kitty nut, so I’ve got figurines and plushies and stuff in my space. It’s slowly grown over time (about 4 years of accumulation), but it’s something everyone in the office sees, asks about, etc. They even bring their kids by my space to see it (and snag a piece of candy!) Recently I had to move cubicles, so I had packed up my kitty stuff in boxes and put it all at my new cube before I left on a Thursday night, and then took off on a 3 day weekend vacation. The day I was gone, with all my stuff moved from my desk, about 10 of my coworkers had little freak-outs and asked my manager what had happened to me and my stuff, since it was so distinctive. She had to reassure everyone that I was just moving spaces and I’d be back Monday. It was kind of funny, how it tripped people out to not see me and my stuff sitting there for just one day.

    1. Jamie*

      Despite what I said about overdecorating below, the one exception is Hello Kitty.

      There can never be too much Hello Kitty anywhere.

      I used to rotate my collection of the Kitties – but then I got a couple as gifts from a co-worker so those are now the work kitties – everyone else is home.

      When someone you work with swings by McDonald’s to get a happy meal to bring their IT the Hello Kitty toy? Well, let’s just say that is a quality co-worker for whom I would not only go out of my way professionally – but for whom I would possibly take a bullet.

      I am way too old to have typed those last couple of paragraphs – I think I need to call it a night and go home.

  25. Jamie*

    Wow – I was JUST thinking about this issue earlier today in a meeting (no lectures, it’s been a long day.)

    When I see the overdecorated work spaces I can’t help but think how awful it would be for them to get fired or laid off and need to make several trips to take their stuff to the car. I’ve seen people who have more stuff on their desk than I have in my house.

    Personally, I have a couple of silly things which make me smile – a couple of KISS bobble-heads my sons bought me for Christmas, and two Hello Kitty toys that a most awesome co-worker gave me. A toy octopus given to me by another co-worker. A framed joke certificate signed and presented to me by the owners of my company and a co-worker when I was elected to head a project – it was a cool moment of camaraderie and fun in the office, one of those laugh till your sides hurt things… and on bad days it reminds me why I do what I do.

    OH and a little tin of Smart Putty from a software vendor – have you guys seen this stuff? It’s really cool and helps pass the time while on hold or waiting for data to compile – seriously you have to get some!

    Other than that just a couple of posters: History of Programming Languages and Empirical Research Methods.

    As far as reading into how anyone decorates their workspace – I think it’s only telling when there is a radical change in habits.

    If someone always had stuff up and all of a sudden it’s nothing but work related, I might wonder if they were easing out. I wouldn’t insist they bring their plants back, but I would notice.

    But I work with plenty of people who have almost nothing personal and I never thought twice about it.

    There have been studies about this (there have been studies about everything) and there’s actually a ratio of personal to non-personal items on a desk which if the ratio gets too high toward personal it can leave a bad enough impression to hurt your career. Who knows if it’s true – but as I have 6 personal things out of about 50 items I think I’m okay. For now.

  26. Rana*

    I wonder how much of a correlation there is between the look of one’s workspace and the look of one’s home?

    I tend towards the minimalist at work (maybe a picture on the wall and a couple of small figurines or toys and maybe a light to make it easier to see). The bare no-frills setting is what gets me in the mood to _do_ work; at home I have a lot more stuff, and sometimes it is distracting. When I’m working from home and hit a productivity block, I often find that going to someplace else where there’s just me, the computer, and maybe a notebook (or whatever work-related reference I need) makes it easier for me to focus and get stuff done.

    So I actually find a minimalist workspace relaxing, since it’s hard for me to keep my home office that tidy on a daily basis, and on bad days I have the attention span of a gnat!

  27. Anonymous*

    I am definitely a minimalist. I have one or two personal items and a few work papers hanging on my cubical wall, so it’s really bare.

    Funny thing is, housekeeping consistently forgets to empty my trash can.

    But I like being a minimalist because I can’t stand junk and I need a clean work space for all the papers that get tossed around on my desk during the day. Do I have intentions to leave the co anytime time? Well, I would love to stay as long as I am wanted.

  28. Anonymous*

    It’s a personal preference. My current job and the last two jobs that I have held, I don’t decorate nor do I have pictures of my kids and husband (I should have with all the school pictures that the kids take at school). Now if I was an executive and I knew for sure that I was going to be in that position for a long period of time, I would definitely decorate my office a lot more. But for me, a cubicle or a desk job I only have the minimal.

  29. Anonymous*

    Ok… even the people who say they are minimalist have even got 1 family photo or novelty on their desks. Mine? A few work related lists (which I do use occasionally0 left from the prior employee and that’s it. Seriously, I don’t have anything that is “mine”. My computer desktop has our Halloween decoration photo on it though – and I’ve even considered removing that.

  30. Kat*

    Ever since I watched as a paralegal at one of my old jobs was let go and it took her about 2 hours to clean her office, while our hr person and one of the guys in the firm stood around and watched her until she left, I vowed I would not have that much personal stuff in my office (or at my cubicle). I used to have not a TON of things in my workspace, but enough that when I decided to take them home I had a couple of boxes of items.

    Fast forward to lay off time, and I walked out of there with half a box of items, saved face and felt better for it. I like having something at my desk that reminds me that I have a life outside of being tied to a chair and computer, be it a picture, a desk calendar to my liking or even a funky pen. But gone are the days of 10 or so pictures of me, friends, significant others, dogs, boybands (leave me alone), Christmas Trees, etc. My favorite coffee mug and a my cell phone will do.

  31. Editor*

    A couple of years ago, I had to pack up my office stuff and anything else we could organize to move unexpectedly to temporary quarters for an indefinite time, because a vehicle ran into the building where my employer leased space. Fortunately, I was not at the office that day.

    I just realized that although we finally moved back into the office, I didn’t move back any of the really personal stuff. I have a desk calendar, a drawer organizer I like, and miscellaneous stuff like a box of tissues and a magnifying glass. Nothing I would miss if I had to leave at a dead run for the emergency exit.

  32. Cassie*

    I try to keep my cube neat & sparse for a couple of reasons – I don’t like clutter (if only I was motivated to clean up my house though!) and because I’m somewhat of a private person and I don’t want to share too much of myself with everyone who passes by my cube. What types of decorations you put up, even if it’s just a themed calendar, says something about you. And I love cutesy stuff (Hello Kitty, Snoopy, etc) BUT I don’t want too much of that at work. Especially if we’re going through some difficult times (say a tight deadline or if I’ve made a mistake) – I’m likely to take stuff down and hide it in the drawers.

    The only things I have pinned on my walls are calendars. Last year, I had 4 calendars – 3 monthly ones (including a Dilbert one) and a year-on-a-page one. I’m surprised no one asked “how many calendars do you need?!”. I put them on different walls so there would be a calendar wherever I needed it. This year, I only have 2 calendars – a monthly one from a coworker and a year one. One year I did put up a Disney princesses calendar (love the princesses but would not usually use it for work), but a coworker gave it to me and I kind of felt obligated. Luckily, I work at a university and they aren’t too strict on what we put up (as long as it’s not offensive). One coworker pins up soda can tabs (I don’t get why). Another has a Mr. Potatohead Star Wars figure on his desk.

    People have commented on how empty my cube is. I put files away obsessively, and sometimes I only have my notepad on my desk (I do a lot of my work on the computer). This leads coworkers to say that I’m not doing any work – that part bothers me. What, my cube needs to look like a pig sty, like everyone else’s? No thanks. (My bosses never comment on my cubicle – either if it’s too sparse or if it’s neat).

  33. Katie L*

    My issue isnt that I have a minimalist cubicle, my issue is that I have a decrepit cubicle that my bosses wont invest in to make better. They dont realize that I would be much more productive in a cubicle that at least allows me to be organized and is preferably aesthetic! That leads me to a question for a manager regarding a contest called “Pimp My Cube” ( http://www.contestfactory.com/pmc ) that my friends have been telling me about. This contest requires me to film my cubicle and upload it to a website. How would you feel about one of your employees doing that? Im sure you wouldnt be so concerned if they won the grand prize!?

  34. Anonymous*

    I’m about to lose my office at my work and be handed a cube…because they want to shuffle around people. Add to this how no one received any raises or promotions despite that our company won new business and more revenue.

    Call me whatever you want. I’m taking my personal things home and pretty much sending out the message that I’m not planning on staying. My cube is going to be a bland plain unemotional workspace that sends the message to management that you can’t claim you’re there for us when you’re not.

  35. Anonymous757*

    Although our situations are different, I agree with you 100%. I work in an environment where people are afraid of attending company functions because the executives would not look favorable on their non-participation. Yes, I do understand the concept of networking and how it can lead to bigger and better things. However, all the networking in the world is not going to help in this place.

    My cubicle is as bare as a new born baby. I make no bones about it, I am one of those people who are passing by. I am not anti-social, just a happy go luck guy who is in a bad situation. I am a hard worker and have never had a bad performance review. Your employment is where you work, it is not a place of worship.

Comments are closed.